Coexist – Really?

Symptom of the Universe has been enjoying an extended summer vacation – here is a quick piece that I have been brooding about for a few weeks – feel free to comment and discuss. 

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The world is a vampire, sent to drain
Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames

 Billy Corgan/Smashing Pumpkins 

Any drive through a modern, well-bred community will see a confluence of Volvos and Priuses adorned with bumper stickers pleading with all of us to coexist. The main argument of this movement, or better still – sentiment – is that all religious groups should get along with each other and play nice. Just be tolerant of one and another and accept each other for who they are and everything will be alright – one gigantic bohemian love fest for the world community. Is this where we are heading? Not likely. Is this realistic? Not at all. 



Religious groups and groups in general are not in the inclusion business. By definition, a group excludes just as it includes. Sure, some more liberated groups are “open to all,” but many groups are designed to discriminate and exclude. A great many groups, both religious and secular, have no interest in coexisting with one another. For example – 

Do fundamentalist Christians want to coexist with Pro Choicers?

Do Zionists want to coexist with Palestinians?

Does Focus on the Family want to accept gays and lesbians? Do Mormons or fundamentalists?

Do Orthodox Jews accept the un-Orthodox?

Does the Taliban want to coexist with moderate Muslims (or anyone?)

Do the religious want to coexist with atheists (and vice versa?)

Did Nazis want to coexist with Jews?

Bosnians with Serbs?

Japanese with Chinese?

New worlders with indigenous groups?

North and South Korea?

Confederate and Union? 

A resounding no is the answer to all of these. 

We need to be educated about groups we are included in as well as groups we are excluded from. If I could answer to my readers and the world how to make all of these disparate groups love, tolerate and coexist I would be in Sweden accepting my Nobel Prize. We do need to be tolerant – it looks more and more like the only ones who are tolerant are the socially liberal folks. So many others are willing to start wars, discriminate, exclude and marginalize a great many people from the world’s communities. 



Extremely large portions of our world are uneducated and will remain that way. Critical thinking is not part of the picture for a great many people and there is no denying mankind’s historical tribal roots and passions. People like to be part of a group – safety in numbers – he/she is one of us – some people just don’t belong. The fears are that these tendencies can prove to be discriminatory and hateful at best and fatal at worst. 

So as a liberally minded person I do not want to squash anyone’s beliefs – but I also do not want other’s beliefs and discriminations thrust upon me. I do have strong feelings against religion and higher powers but I also do not engage on the topic by assaulting others’ beliefs unless I am engaged to do so – I suppose at times my writing can provoke.

Where do we go from here? Is there hope? 

Coexist is not an answer but rather a utopian ideal that is unattainable. There may be no solution at all except for us to strive for knowledge of others who are not like us.


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14 Responses to “Coexist – Really?”

  1. Twistedandrogeny Says:

    Very refreshing. I wish I had found this a few weeks back. It would have been a good back-up source for a heated debate I was involved in with some friends. It is very difficult to find like-minded individuals in Mennonite country… Even with Philly, Baltimore, DC, and NYC all within a few hours drive. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This free-thinking, bleeding-liberal, atheist lesbian (person?) is happy to encounter people of similar opinion.

  2. sapblatt Says:

    Thank you so much for reading – it is depressing – but it is reality. I am lucky I live in Boston where most of our conservatives are at least socially liberal and there is little evidence of fundamentalist religion – always like to have free thinking readers! – Mike

  3. goose Says:

    mike. you rock bro. this was a fantastic piece. well written. humorous even.

    Yes, Coexist is unrealistic, a utopian ideal, all this is true, as you say. But why settle? Something so prized as Worldwide Harmony surely requires lofty vision; such a momentous event springs from the fringes of fantastical hope, no? I dunno mike, i guess I’m just an optimistic so and so.


  4. Kate Says:

    It made me smile, not for “funny” but for “yeah!”… and the question still is… where do we go from here.
    Not having the “wildreness” to run to scape from other humans, we are stuck and must learn to deal with each other… or we will perish.
    Emotional evolution will be the next “cut” and if we do not learn to deal with each other and stay centered… or emotionally healthy, we will not be able to pass on our genes.
    I guess the last time humanity encounter this was during the black plague… but I am most likely wrong…
    Thank you Mike, your blogg is always great!

  5. Karen Says:

    Very thought provoking, Mike. One thing I had to learn in my 12 step inventory was that I could be pretty intolerant. I think you are right in one sense. The idea of Coexistence as concrete is hard. I prefer to see it more of something to strive towards. Tolerance, however, can be practiced. I try to practice tolerance every day. I don’t think I’ll ever be done. As you know, I reside in the Higher Power camp, but I believe that everyone has the right to believe what they want (or not). And when my practice of tolerance falls short, I know right away.

  6. Nelson Says:

    A fine piece and very timely,considering the road this country is on. You have brought up several good and thought provoking,points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts !

  7. Al Stefanelli Says:

    Excellent, Mike! Those questions should be asked by everyone, on a very regular basis.

  8. skyeguy Says:

    A utopian ideal that is unattainable.

    Isn’t that the basis for religion in general? Also, I don’t see this as limited to religion, but to people in general. Perhaps tolerance is a better word than coexist?

    As I say, whatever God looks like to you, well thats just fine by me.

  9. The Gorilla Atheist Says:

    That was a solid article. I believe in live and let live to a degree as there are some things like Muslim pedophilia I simply cannot apply that to.

  10. marla calandro Says:

    I’m with you Mike ~ When you say “Coexist is not an answer but rather a utopian ideal that is unattainable. There may be no solution at all except for us to strive for knowledge of others who are not like us.” It’s just too idealistic. The examples you provide are spot on. Certain groups will never accept other groups whose views don’t match their own.
    I can tolerate most people, just don’t hurt me or mine. And may the best man win. ❤
    Yes, knowledge is key. Teach your children well.

  11. sapblatt Says:

    thank you for your comments and reading!

  12. Anne Helga Joensen Says:

    Nice page! We need ideals, and we need to believe that we can ❤ Love from Norway! It is now one week after the meaningless attack and killing of 69 members of the Labour partys youth organisation.
    We need to open up to communicate with those on the very far out right as well as left, and all kind of -ists. There will always be some lonely meniacs, but hopefully we can reduce the number of those by paying attention and at least let them speak and be heard. The only way towards coexistence is tolerance and openmindedness in a solid democracy.
    With love, Anne Helga.

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