Embracing coexistence: how it can change anyone for the better

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Photo Via The Vox under the creative commons license

Coexisting is unavoidable in today’s society, but what does it really mean to coexist and how can you do it?

Coexistence. What a truly beautiful word it is when you understand what it means. 

Many people are aware of the subject, and in reality, our everyday life is impacted by it. But not everyone can recognize that they have been coexisting easily, and a few may even refuse to acknowledge the diversity of coexistence. As someone who first hand, honestly, experienced the adventure of coexisting with someone else on a personal level, I can say that it is an eye opener, and an experience that I would want everyone else to pursue who hasn’t had the privilege to yet, or hasn’t truly realized that they have been doing it all along. 

Coexist: to exist together or at the same time. To exist separately or independently but peaceably, often while remaining rivals or adversaries: Although their ideologies differ greatly, the two great powers must coexist.”

— Dictionary.com

Coexisting within today’s world is almost inevitable. Everywhere you look there will always be someone so much different than you in almost any aspect you can think of. All too often, diversity is taken for granted, and not really brought to its highest potential since personal biases and today’s society have, in a sense, neglected to shine the truth on it. Opening up to someone who you never thought could ever have the same life as you because they were so different morally, spiritually, physically, or in any other way can be difficult. More times than none, people like to say that it shouldn’t be that hard to embrace diversity within your life, but then don’t embrace it themselves, and mock or ridicule others different than themselves. For me, I wasn’t even aware that I was coexisting with someone completely different than me, until I did realize it, and it changed my life forever. 

Back in May of last year, I met somebody that I didn’t know at the time would ultimately change the way I viewed myself and other people just like him. On a spontaneous search for friends via the internet, I virtually ran into someone who I had no clue existed, but would get to know better on a level I didn’t even know was possible, especially since it was all online. His name was Erduan, and I ended up really liking him to the point where we decided to try a long distance relationship (since he is in Canada). After what had seemed like forever, I thought that I had known everything I needed to know about him until I learned that he was WAY different than me. For one, I learned that he wasn’t much of a Canadian as he was Croatian (where his entire family is from) and I learned he was a Muslim, which was such a twist of events since I am a full blown Catholic. Learned biases and my own uncertainties led me to really contemplate if I wanted to date someone religiously different than me, with different morals as well. I wasn’t sure if we would work out because of how different we were even life-

my picture
He stayed in Minnesota for two weeks, and I got to know way more about him and his customs in which is a lesson I’m forever grateful for! (photo via Ashley Johnson)

style-wise. I literally had no clue that we were pretty much the same since I never really looked into it, but I think it just proves that people are too quick to judge, especially when they don’t really know anything about the matter and only rely on what they’ve heard to lead them to a decision. 

One year, six months later, I finally met him for the very first time IN PERSON! Granted, coronavirus still existed at the time, he came up to see me via airplane (which if you didn’t know already, still works). THE COMMITMENT I TELL YOU: three different planes, and nine hours later, I finally was able to meet him. The ending of my story pretty much is that I decided we were more similar than we were different, despite my own insecurities towards something I had no clue about. After a hefty research session, and hearing the real core of his life and beliefs coming straight from him and his family members, I truly opened my eyes to the similarities we shared, and had an optimistic view towards basically everything that I was ever unsure with mentally and on the basis of being with or even BEING FRIENDS with someone so different than me. 

Here in the U.S., diversity is around us like no one’s business! Just outside of where Sartell High School lies, St. Cloud is a mecca of diversity. It is almost imperative that we learn to coexist and see each other as more similar than we are different due to that very reason. Although where we live in Minnesota is heavily diverse, the majority of Minnesota is a white population, which means there is less minority, which also means less interaction with people of different backgrounds. We should consider ourselves lucky to be in such a unique environment with such unique people, and we should use that as an opportunity to become more self aware as a whole and also individually, and grow as a community embracing the difference in cultures and religions. Living harmoniously together with other religions and cultures is so possible, but change starts when others join in, hence why I am writing this article. I hope sharing my story of how coexisting and cultural appreciation towards someone helped me become a better person and hopefully it will inspire someone else to do the same; maybe with a

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Coexisting lies within the hands of everyone it touches, especially people of diverse faiths and beliefs where differences are heavily prominent and misunderstandings are more common. (Photo Via The Times of Israel under the creative commons license)

new friend, maybe with someone special. Coexisting doesn’t just lie in religion and culture however, we can all learn to coexist with those who live around us who may have disabilities or need help financially to support themselves and their families (and it’s a great opportunity to volunteer and give back to the people who need it and will appreciate it the most). You can even learn to coexist with the animals in your area! Whatever comes your way, it’s always important to recognize how educating yourself on other’s diversity is beneficial for everyone to live together without tension!