A Word on Coexistence

When it comes to my own car, I have never been a big fan of bumper stickers. I have had a small, tasteful Apple computer sticker on in the corner of the back window for many years, because I was so very exuberant and proud about owning my own Mac back in 2003 that I just had to put it on to share my happiness with the world! It wasn’t until last year that I decided (after much hesitation) to make the leap into statement-based bumper stickers with the addition of the “COEXIST” sticker. The letters of the word are made up of religious, gender- and ideologically-related symbols.

coexist

If my car is going to make a statement to the world, I think it’s a simple, straightforward and worthy one: let us all – with our varying opinions, creeds, sexual orientations, political beliefs, and general styles and states of individual existence – find a way to peacefully live alongside each other. It seems quite simple to me, and a sentiment I imagine most of us share on some level. But over the last 6 months or so, I’ve gotten so many derisive reactions and snide comments about it. I have to say that I’m surprised, especially considering the educated, city-dwelling individuals in question.

Now, I’m not a hippie. I went to SMU. My parents are Republicans. I’m not trying to say with this sticker that I agree with everything symbolized here – I don’t. I’m not trying to say that I find them all equally true – I don’t. But what I am saying is that we, in our differences, NEED to find a way to maintain our individual belief structures while peacefully coexisting alongside each other. That’s all. I have beliefs and opinions, many of which are set in the stone of my heart and mind. I also fully recognize that many people I love fully disagree with certain aspects of those beliefs and opinions. AND THAT IS OKAY. You don’t have to agree with me for me to love you or live next door to you or drive you to the hospital or work with you toward a common goal. I’d certainly hope that you are able to have people in your life who disagree with you on issues you hold dear, because although it may be uncomfortable, it can also be such a rich source of blessing. I am a Christian, and I truly, firmly believe that, were Jesus here, he would call for some peaceful coexistence right now – in this city, this country, and this international community. I’m really not trying to get preachy, because I have my own lenses through which I see the Other, and I know that (although I’m working on it). I’m just processing this bumper-sticker issue out loud, because it has taken me by surprise, and I feel like it’s important to talk about these things in order to resolve them.

I heard some of President Obama’s speech to the Turkish Parliament this morning as I was getting ready for work, and his words were such a relief to me. They underscore for me the reason I continue to keep this sticker on my car despite the rude comments, eye rolls and snide remarks. These were his words to a predominantly Muslim, democratic nation:

“Let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam.

In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.

I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world – including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country – I know, because I am one of them…

…Our focus will be on what we can do, in partnership with people across the Muslim world, to advance our common hopes and our common dreams. And when people look back on this time, let it be said of America that we extended the hand of friendship to all people.”

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One Response

  1. I saw one the other day that said bombing for peace is like screwing for virginity… I’d take that over an apple sticker

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