The Temptation to Burn Bridges
In my younger years, I was inclined to burn bridges.
If I didn’t like how someone treated me, I just walked away from them— completely away! And I didn’t come back for a long, long time, if ever.
This didn’t work well for me, and it wouldn’t have worked well for New Jersey.
In 2012, the state was slammed by Hurricane Sandy, and in big need of help, and not just from their neighboring states. Unless you believed that private donations would do the job, they needed federal assistance to rebuild homes, highways, bridges, the beaches that generate major income, and more.
Yet it wasn’t too long before 2012 that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused $3 billion in federal funds to build what would have been the biggest public works project in U.S. history, a new tunnel between New York and New Jersey. “I refuse to compromise my principles,” he said, in an interview with the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
But change them he did when Sandy tore up a good portion of Governor Christie’s state.
To Christie’s credit, he was vocal about his appreciation when President Obama came through with help. And while we often admire (or pretend to admire) consistency in our politicians, Christie’s change of position may have helped millions of New Jerseyans get through the post-Sandy crisis faster.
You Can’t Communicate If You Burn Bridges
What made this change of attitude possible is that — as anti-Obama as Christie was before Sandy, he never burned his bridges to the White House. He never, to my knowledge, called the President racist names, accused him of being unpatriotic, or slammed the door on future cooperation.
Obama is incredibly good at rising above that stuff, so it’s not surpising that he came to New Jersey’s aid.
But you can’t always count on the other person’s forgiveness when you discover that you do need them after all.
It’s better to just not burn the bridge.