Coexistence: living together at the same place at the same time. The term has developed over the years; from being used in context of U.S and U.S.S.R relations in 1980s to now covering a broader wider range including social, cultural, religious aspects. A healthy society is a diverse spectrum of identities. Owing to globalisation, individuals from different ideological classes, ethnicities, religions, genders, political affiliations, sexual orientations, linguistics, etc. form a society today. Due to the multifaceted nature of composition of today’s society, dissensions are an inevitable part of any existence. What is important, however, is how we take on these differences.
Aforementioned identities can be direct conflicts in themselves; contributors to causes of conflict or even identities that get established when any conflicts get heightened. Coexistence then is to resolve these differences in a non-violent manner. Resolving disputes in a way where one does not negatively affect the existence of the other.
We all have our identities and we take them along wherever we go. The notion of coexistence is not to give up your identities but to embrace dissimilar identities wholeheartedly, while keeping yours. This richness of identities adds flavour to the diversity of a society. A rational viewpoint is to accept diversity as a positive potential, not as a threat. In today’s globalised world, we depend on each other more than ever before in history. This interdependence needs to be endorsed and not depreciated. The concept of coexistence is not mere tolerance for disagreements. It is a version one level up as it incorporates diversity and interdependence positively and constructively.
Jawaharlal Nehru famously said:
“The only alternative to coexistence is co-destruction.”
On a theoretical level, in a group, we are defined by the differences we have with that group. On the flipside, we tend to define others based on the differences they have compared to us. Litmus test for a society’s willingness to coexistence is its tolerance for difference. If you feel uncomfortable, intimidated, threatened in the presence of people who hold any or several identities different to you, then it is time to work out on your tolerance. You need to stretch your acceptance till you reach encompassing levels of inclusion and universal harmony.
In the absence of tolerance and coexistence, one group would try to get rid of the other either by dominating them in inhumane manners, by forcing them to join their group or least pressing them to flee. History is full or wars and conflicts and in the backdrop of every clash rests a conflicting idea, a disagreement, a difference of opinion, belief and/or what should be an accepted behaviour.
This dream of achieving universal harmony and coexistence is within our grasp. What is needed for peace is a set of universally accepted rules and their enforcement. It is needless to jot down the declarations and treaties and ideas that are available to guide us. We have a plethora of them; by following which we can realise the notion of coexistence. We have traveled for centuries before getting rid of the conception of ‘divine right of kings’. Killing is no solution. Hating is no option. Concurrence, however, is best option. We human beings need to understand ourselves. We are driven by emotions. Our emotions can be sometimes misleading and even detrimental. The need of hour is to keep arousal of our emotions in control and learn to make decisions based on rationality and objectivity.
This article was originally published here.