Build bridges, not walls

On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, this year, I was privileged to watch a beautiful musical-cum-dance ballet, based on Mahatma Gandhi’s thinking on religion and pluralism, staged by SAPP, a division of St Andrew’s College, Bandra, Mumbai. During the 80-minute light and sound play, one of the characters narrated this very inspiring story.

Years ago, there lived an elderly man who had two sons. Once, he called his sons to him and said: “I am growing older, I may not live long. So, I shall divide my property between you two. Make the best use of it that you will have a happy and comfortable life, hereafter.” He died within a few months.

Soon, the two sons constructed their own houses in the places the father had given them, and began to live separately on either side of a small river that divided the property into two, with very little or no relationship between them. One of them put up a long fence at the end of his portion which further segregated the families.

One day, the contractor who built the house for the other brother came to him asking whether he had any work for him. He told him, “I want you to construct a strong wall between our properties, that I don’t see my brother’s face any more!” He then went abroad on a long vacation.

On his return, the contractor informed him that he has completed the work he had given him before he left. He added, “But I constructed a bridge over the river, instead of the wall you had asked me to, that you brothers can cross over to the other side and live as good brothers.” Hardly had the contractor finished talking, the other brother came in, with both his arms open. Before they could start speaking anything, they were hugging each other, as they used to earlier.

To the contractor, who silently watched them hugging each other so warmly, the elder brother said, “Please stay back. We have work for you, now that we are together again!” But the contractor politely replied, “I am sorry. I can’t stay back. I need to go. I have more bridges to be built elsewhere!”

Pope Francis told thousands of young people gathered in Panama for the World Youth Day, this year: “Build bridges and not walls.” In the present situation prevailing in our country, the call of the Pope to young people assumes special significance. We need to build bridges and be peacemakers; this is the need of the hour, the reason for which The Teenager Today was founded, exactly 56 years ago this month.

Alfonso Elengikal
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Alfonso Elengikal

Alfonso Elengikal, SSP, has the unique distinction of being the longest-serving editor of THE TEENAGER TODAY, an office he held for over 17 years. He is the bestselling author of You Can Make A Difference, You Are Destined For The Skies, Let The Real You Stand Up! and Discover The Hero Within You published by Better Yourself Books.