Have you seen the bumper stickers on cars around town, suggesting that we all get along and accept one another’s different perspectives? The various fonts displayed for each letter are meant to further underscore the diversity and peaceful cohabitation of all faiths and creeds. Ahhh…peace on earth, as it were.
In fact, the very definition of the word means that individuals or groups of people can live together in peace. In conversations this is often linked to tolerance, which implies that one can accept practices and beliefs different from the ones we embrace personally.
Recently I saw 2 plants that were growing so close together that one had intertwined its branches and leaves with the other, leaving an observer to wonder where one plant ended and the other began. However, the 2 plants never took on one another’s properties. They each remained true to their biological make-up while sharing resources and a favorable environment.
To me, this was a perfect picture of coexistence and tolerance, even as it pertains to human beings. As I go through my days interacting with people who may or may not share my beliefs, traditions, or worldview, I can still breathe the same air, work in the same marketplace, and pay taxes to the same government. But I am still me. Coexistence doesn’t invalidate individual convictions. And maybe a key element to successful coexistence is a strong sense of self and inner moral compass so that we’re not threatened by differing or opposing views.
Where have you found it challenging to coexist with those who aren’t like you? How do you accept others’ views without compromising your own?