Building is my thing. I grew up in a family of builders and it always seems to stay in your blood! I remember walking the ceiling joists and rafters of my father’s various building projects before I was a decade old, and I loved every minute of it! Learning to work with your hands and seeing the development of a building project take place one piece at a time was a thrill for me then and still is today. However, it’s much easier working with 2x4’s, sheetrock and concrete, than it is with people. Simple building materials don’t have a mind of their own. They don’t talk back. They simply do what you make them do and with time you eventually produce a finished product. What is amazing is that those ordinary materials in the right hands can combine to make something beautiful, lasting, and valuable. Working with people is much more difficult than building a house, but can be even more rewarding and produce results you cannot place a value upon.

Good morning and happy Friday!
Building is my thing. I grew up in a family of builders and it always seems to stay in your blood! I remember walking the ceiling joists and rafters of my father’s various building projects before I was a decade old, and I loved every minute of it! Learning to work with your hands and seeing the development of a building project take place one piece at a time was a thrill for me then and still is today. However, it’s much easier working with 2x4’s, sheetrock and concrete, than it is with people. Simple building materials don’t have a mind of their own. They don’t talk back. They simply do what you make them do and with time you eventually produce a finished product. What is amazing is that those ordinary materials in the right hands can combine to make something beautiful, lasting, and valuable. Working with people is much more difficult than building a house, but can be even more rewarding and produce results you cannot place a value upon.  
We live in a time when it seems people are building more walls than bridges, and I’m talking about human relationships. I understand the importance of walls for structural and safety purposes, but here I’m referring to walls as communicational barriers. It’s easy to build a wall and cut off those who disagree, people who have a differing opinion, or individuals who we simply don’t like for whatever reason. Walls as barriers prevent effective communication, which in turn burn a bridge. A bridge offers a means of connecting, a passageway to seeing from the other side. Bridges are also necessary to unite both sides. Imagine a world without bridges! It would be a disconnected and isolated world in many places. Of course, there are times when it is necessary to build a wall and burn a bridge, but that should be the exception, not the rule.
When it comes to government, and even in human relationships, too many times the norm is building walls and burning bridges. Some think in terms of “here’s my side, and there’s your side and don’t cross the line buddy!” Many focus on differences rather than finding what they have in common. With this thinking, pettiness can become the usual modus operandi rather than big-picture thinking. Some would say that communicating with those on the other side of the wall is compromising. So, burn the wall! Did your values change because the wall came down? No! In fact, now you can see the other side and be clear about who they are and can communicate without yelling over the wall and getting misunderstood. Sometimes there is still a gap when the wall comes down. That’s when we must build a bridge. This is a further commitment to connect with the other side. When you make the effort to build a bridge amazing things can happen! This is where something beautiful, lasting and valuable can be created! Whether it’s government or human relationships, (and if it is possible), burn the walls and build bridges! Everyone will benefit and you can look back and see something wonderful was created that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Until next time, smile-it’s an instant makeover!


Ben Baker is the mayor of Neosho and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.