Co-existence: to live in peace with another or others, despite differences. Can we truly co-exist? This is a question that has plagued mankind for centuries and one I’ve found myself discussing with anyone willing to help find the answer.
Last week I was thrust into the public eye after observing the recent murder in Woolwich. My vivid commentary on Twitter [since deleted] seemed to strongly resonate with people. I’ve lived in Woolwich all my life and I’ve seen my fair share of violence across the capital, from guns being let off by defiant college students who have had enough of a lifetime of being bullied and victimised by their peers, to knife fights where stomachs have been sliced open and intestines spilled out on to the street. However, I’m no one special, people around the world see these things every day and that’s why I wanted to write, because despite this, I still have faith in humanity.
I’ve been asked why I didn’t take money from media organisations in return for spilling the proverbial beans on my version of events. My answer to that is that I’m not driven by money and never will be. What occurred did not happen in secrecy. The events of that day were and are public knowledge. Out of respect for the victim’s family I chose not to repeat what I’d already posted online. For me it was morally the right thing to do and I stand by my decision, but when the Guardian hollered at me to write a piece on peaceful coexistence, I couldn’t have jumped any quicker at the chance to write on a subject I care about.
Co-existence is and has always been a topic we fail to come to a definitive conclusion about. When approaching this subject, some questions that have come to be the most significant in the quest for peace immediately came to my mind, while perfectly reasonable answers almost simultaneously counteract, and win the argument. Is it down to differences in opinions? Is it our innate human characteristics? Is it due to a global battle for resources? Or is it just a dog-eat-dog world?
My answer to each of those questions is a resounding NO.
To my understanding, all of the world’s belief systems ultimately project a message of living in respect of one another in mutual harmony. You don’t have to be Plato to understand that purely coexisting is effectively what we’re all trying to achieve. Our instinctive nature as civilised human beings is not to be unkind or malicious towards one another but quite the opposite. I bet that regardless of culture, race or background the majority of the world’s 7 billion-strong population will agree. So while it probably wasn’t the best idea to build our economies to be over-reliant on fossil fuels, it’s plausible to assume that advances in technology and infrastructure we depend on today might not have materialised had we not have done so.
Despite the long chain of complex issues that affect our co-existence, the human race is naturally disposed to want to solve the world’s problems. Look at advances in healthcare, or our constant wildlife preservation campaigns. Innately, it is human nature to care.
Scientists say breakthroughs in how we harness energy will soon render the fuel issue obsolete, while environmentalists retort that we should prioritise the global water shortage. To all that, I say let it be. We are destined to find a solution, just as we have time and time again. These problems will simply take twice as long to solve if we are in a state of perpetual conflict with one another.
I’ve seen some crazy things go down growing up in south-east London and it saddens me to think how emotionally numb I’ve become to accept it as the norm and carry on. Statistics show that the number of violent crimes reported has dropped significantly in the last 10 years and according to these figures it would seem as though conflicts of race, ethnicity or culture are no longer the main predicaments we face.
If that’s the case, and although this could be argued against, let’s not backpedal in light of recent events. I’ve seen how the human condition can be both loving and bitterly cruel. Regardless, both my feet remain firmly planted on the positive side of the divide and I’m urging us all to continue on the quest for equality and peace.
Let’s not allow the isolated acts of some chip away at the foundations of co-existence we’ve built across London and the UK. We’ve come a very long way in learning how to integrate multiple cultures in singular communities. So, in reality coexistence is not such an alien term as we might think it is. Communication is key: let’s keep talking, sharing and learning along the road to utopia. We are not blind to the fact that there’s a problem and I am not saying we have all the answers, but we are capable of finding the solutions; it’s in our human DNA.
Those in power with the ability and responsibility to make immediate changes will do so, but what the masses have is greater access to the truth and a voice. That voice is now loud enough to force change. We are in an age where information can be shared between millions within seconds. Social media gives us an immediate platform to share information. I stand proud in saying I speak from the perspective of the average person: I believe we all carry the same concerns and live for the same joys. Humanity is the only religion.