To the Editor:
There are a multitude of topics in our constantly evolving culture which have become extremely controversial. Everyone, we will assume for the moment, starts out with the best of intentions. They have unshakable faith in what they belief in their hearts to be true.
If you start talking with someone who does not share your particular perspective on a personally vital issue you might not be able to politely drop the topic and move on to something else less problematic. So, you persist on pushing forward with your own personal, deeply held perspectives. Emotions start to run wild and very quickly these intense feelings escalate into anger and hate. With blood vessels bulging in your face, you leave this verbal altercation behind, making mental notes of the seditious thoughts that have come to define your new enemy.
You go back to those who hold your ideology in common and you express the horrors of your most recent encounter. You reaffirm with one another that these thoughts are indeed abhorrent and that your way is the only way. All the members of your group go out and they do exactly the same thing that you have done.
We are now however, living in a time when years have been whittled down to nanoseconds and distance is meaningless. In a far shorter time than might have been expected two warring factions are face to face on the battle field and the young soldiers you have recruited think that they are on their Xboxes, but they are not are they? Now they must fight to the death in order to prove that you are right. Who is the winner here, can anyone see a winner out on the field?
That brings us now to an alternate option. Rewind a bit to the point where you started to feel your emotions run wild. Pause for a moment and count to three or perhaps to 10 if you have gotten yourself really worked up. While you are counting do a little multi-tasking and think! When, since the dawn of civilization, has anger and hate ever led to anything else other than yet another apocalyptic blood bath? Is this really what you want? I think not!
So you finish counting and you say instead, “We do not have to be the same in order to be friends.” We are all intimately connected with one another. We breathe the same air and drink the same water. Our children go to school together and we are all worried about the economy. We are all struggling from one pay check to the next and we all, for the most part, try our best to be good people. I may not agree with you and you might be different, but diversity is good, diversity is essential, for the survival of the larger system upon which all of us without exception are totally dependent.
Unfortunately we all know that it is not that simple. Albert Einstein puts our dilemma quite well when he says:
“We have changed many things but we have not changed the fundamental way in which we think and thus we drift toward an unparalleled catastrophe of our own making.”
There is one final quote with which I would end. It is by Piet Hein, a Danish scientist, mathematician, inventor, author and poet who first published in April 1940. Piet Hein was also an active participant in the resistance movement. He is a shining example and a reminder of the incredible power of the word.
“Coexistence or no existence.”
That much at least is simple.