Developing Coexistence

Angela Khaminwa

Program Officer for Outreach and Communication, The Coexistence Initiative

Sarah Peterson

Program Officer for Dialogue and Mainstreaming Coexistence, The Coexistence Initiative

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

S: Lesson number one is that dialogue and communication is critical for coexistence and building a state for coexistence. Lesson number two is that there isn't one way you can define coexistence. To measure coexistence in one community is difficult because people see and understand coexistence in different ways. Coexistence when main streamed into social practice, when there are mixed shops, mixed schools, when there are public services open to both sides, then you have better relations, fewer antagonisms and animosities, and you have a greater appreciation for living in a diverse society.

Q: And obstacles?

S: That crime and political corruption and fear do tend to serve as obstacles to building an environment that is engaged in the active embrace of diversity.

Q: Those are pretty big ones.

S: I guess the idea is that if you start small as Angela was saying, if you start small but build up, there's a greater likelihood that you'll have a stronger foundation upon which to stand in combating these obstacles. Working together to fight crime, working together to address the issue of political corruption, working together to eradicate the fear of one another that so often impedes cooperation.

A: I think what is important about that story is that coexistence, in creating a stable society or changing individual beliefs, cannot stand on its own. It is interlinked with other things such as corruption and crime. Therefore it becomes a very strong part, or the mainstream of coexistence becomes a very strong part of other mechanisms either at the community level or the state level, such as anti-corruption measures or development, education. So that coexistence itself, that is, changing people's perspective on others and on difference, is part of a larger picture in creating sustainable peace and sustainable development.