The Older I Get, the More I Realize That Some Things Just Can’t Coexist

A few days ago, as I navigated the pandemonium that ensues most mornings on most major traffic thoroughfares, I looked over and noticed a bumper sticker on the back of the SUV that kept riding her brake in front of me. I’ve seen it a thousand times. “COEXIST.”

But this time, it struck a new cord within me. The bumper sticker features the word “COEXIST” made out of symbols of various different religions, orientations and the like. It was created to encourage people to coexist, or live cohesively, with those who are different from them.

Two thoughts immediately flooded my mind. First, it’s not enough to coexist with others. Coexisting is not living. It’s not experiencing. It’s not interacting. That’s because “existing” simply refers to being alive at a given place, and “coexisting” simply means being alive at the same place as another person. It has nothing to do with weaving the fabrics of people of different beliefs, backgrounds and ethnicities together. It’s simply not enough to coexist. It’s not even a good start on learning to be kind, to be understanding, to be tolerant.

 

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