Coexist? In this still primitive world? Is that even possible?

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on July 27, 2014

I saw an image today, a picture of an Israeli kid and an arab kid walking side by side, as if lost in a deep connection and conversation, and I thought I might muse out loud about it here on my blog.    The caption is “Coexist, or we won’t exist anymore.”

Coexist Coexist

Is that possible?  I don’t know.  I can’t see how the world works out. I don’t know why it will, or when. I see the same evidence that you see, most of which points to or predicts the opposite.  I’m not going to explain the current condition away.  I will not commit to the idea that it’s all divinely ordained, nor profess that it’s going to work out exactly as it should. Beyond ‘it is what it is,’ I can say nothing of the truth as to how this all turns out.

But somehow, someway, I keep coming back to this idea that we (individuals, communities of interest and shared interests, towns, states, nations, sworn enemies, we…) can be better than we’ve been, do better than we’ve done, and have better than we’ve had. And I have this idea that if I just stay focused on that and keep working for that, working on that, working with that, I’ll derive the most health and happiness, and be of the most value to my family, friends and the world around me all at once.

I do not see the upside of investing my emotional health in the idea that the arrogance, selfishness and stupidity of the few will determine the fate of the many.  I do not see the upside in trying to decide who ‘the stupid few’ are, either.  I choose to trust that the impact of what we can’t see must be equal to or greater than the impact of what we can see, since there is so much more that we can’t see than what we can. And even if we only look at what we can see, with rare exception, there are good people all around us trying their best to live good lives and make the most out of their circumstances.

I realize that, here in the west,  we live in a culture and a time when self actualization isn’t just possible, but somewhat encouraged, so that my thoughts can naturally move in that direction.  I recognize that such is not true for people in many other places in the world – specifically, the ones that are in so much pain right now –  in the Middle East, the Ukraine, and Africa, in South America and Central America too, inner cities throughout the world and in the U.S. – there are pockets of dysfunction where baseline needs of biology and physiology, then security take priority.   But even in those places, some of which are really hurting today, the potential exists to leapfrog their development pains and learn from history and the world what best practices will break the cycle.

The world I desire to live in seems more distant, and the change I wish for more impossible, when I look through the lens of repetitive media narratives that profit through the promotion of anger, fear and distress; or the spin narratives of the political class that keep the big issues on the margin while misdirecting towards issues that divide. I’m not going to quit being a witness to reality, or wrestling with the issues of the day in my own conscience, in my own way.  Plain and simple, I do not care to engage in conflict about conflict.  That’s not my reason for living.

Because somehow. Someway. Someday. Something better may become possible. Why not, stranger things have happened, amiright? And I know this:  The certain path to retreat and defeat in the face of difficulty is to say “I give up.” I’m not giving up any more. No fun in demoralization, just a massive energy leak. I’d rather give up on giving up rather than have conflict about conflict. I prefer to keep my eyes on the prize, a better life, a better world because I’m in it. Yep.

To hasten a better day, I’ll keep my focus on building bridges, destroying walls, finding better ways to help than complaining about what’s wrong or affixing blame . And if I forget, and based on prior experience I will forget, I’m sure life will find a way to remind me, as it always does. Because I want to be reminded.  Because this is important to me. For me.

Maybe for you.

Be well,


P.S.  Your comments are welcome below.   What do you think?  Is it possible for warring parties to coexist and make peace?   Is it possible for you to make peace with warring parties?

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