Peaceful Coexistence

Regarding a popular fast-food chain that’s in the news these days (and other equally-divisive issues):

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (submitted to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, and adopted on December 15, 1791): “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of December, 1948, at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. (The Declaration came about as a result of the atrocities, rubble and tragedy of World War II and it represents a first stab at a global expression of the rights to which all people should be entitled).

Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Such a sticky wicket, this “free speech” stuff, for the line between opinion and slander/libel/hate-mongering can be a shaky one. And while Person A is welcome to espouse their own thoughts/opinions, Person B is equally free to proclaim their opposite (but equal) stance.

In my current role as The Mute in the play, the Fantasticks, I function (from time to time) as The Wall. I simply stand above the characters holding a stick that denotes said Wall and the characters’ story plays out on either side of it – as I watch in a rather detached fashion. (A bit like the Greek gods of Olympus as they witnessed the antics of humans). Both “sides” share the same ultimate goal but are divided by manipulation, misunderstanding, temperament and ignorance.

I may be hopelessly naïve (or misinformed) but I believe that the vast majority of people simply want to live lives of peaceful co-existence, family health/security and worth.

Stained glass rose window in the cathedral of St Denis, near Paris, FranceThe image here is the Rose Window of Cathédrale royale de Saint-Denis. Rose windows employ geometry on three levels: the immediately apparent, the hidden and the symbolic. Every space is defined by its neighboring geometric figure. Separated by lines, the spaces mean nothing individually… until one steps back to view the “big picture.”

America (and much of the world) has become obsessed by the lines and blind to the majesty, fragility and magic of humanity and the planet that we inhabit. We seem to be, en masse, blithely, willfully and destructively oblivious to the Big Picture.

Photo: Stained glass rose window in the cathedral of St Denis, near Paris, France - licensed by at iStock. com. © Lambert (Bart) Parren
Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.