COEXISTing inspires readers

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 3, 2020

Photo of C.R. Guest supplied

Thank you, readers, for your encouraging responses to last week’s column on COEXISTing with each other in a spirit of inclusion, compassion and mutual respect – qualities that make Canada such a great country to call home. What started out as an act of vandalism in removing a reader’s COEXIST bumper sticker prompted an outpouring of goodwill. Here are just a few of the emails I received:

Halifax, NS reader Lorraine Folks, a frequent visitor to family in Cochrane, sure knows how to puff up a columnist’s ego. She writes:

“This is an article that touches my heart and soul. We need you for President, Prime Minister – a world leader of some sort! One who can bring back sensibilities!  

“Some days I want to take our planet and give it a good shaking, not of earthquake proportions, though, but just enough to wake people up and ‘get it’, to COEXIST. I’d have to be Atlas to do that. But I am a mere human. However, humans, in their folly, create the need for change; and as humans we have the power to change perspectives.”

From Calgary Tami Leigh writes: “What a more wonderful event has taken place because of one wrong. Connection, awareness, new friends, another distribution of COEXIST and a change of heart for someone we do not know. Amazing!”

Former Cochrane resident Kate Millar Young, now living in Kincardine, ON, writes:

“I was exceptionally moved by the strong message in your column this week. It really played on the heartstrings. I love that bumper sticker, as well, and once you explained the symbolism within it I realized the power of the word!”

Edmonton reader Colleen Chapman writes: “Take it from one who knows, that message is the same on the other side. Every person I have ever met who had a connection to a higher power, no matter what religion (or no religion but ‘nature’) has COEXIST as a basis of their belief, along with the Golden Rule.

“And yes, I am prepared to discover many things in my beliefs that need tweaking. I just know that love one another is a universal commandment, suggestion, guidance, etc. And we can, indeed, love our neighbours without necessarily liking them!”

Then there’s this response from Cochrane reader Teresa Keon:

“I was moved to tears reading your column about the COEXIST sticker. What a wonderful thing to celebrate! In the ‘70s we lived in Toronto, in Flemingdon Park, a neighbourhood of multi-storey apartments with 75 nationalities in one square mile. It was heaven! We met every shade of colour, every economic group, and every belief. The South Asian refugees from the Ugandan expulsion under Idi Amin occupied several floors of our buildings. To this day I thank God for the experience, raising our children in that atmosphere.”

From her home in Hawaii, Linda Kavelin-Popov, of Virtues Project fame, succinctly summarizes our readers’ sentiments: “Wonderful message of unity in diversity.”

Before closing, however, I simply must add our congratulations to one more of our coffee companions, a Bearspaw resident who received national attention this past Friday for his inclusive initiatives in employer-employee relations.

Charles Roy “Nipper” Guest, C.M., 94, was appointed to the Order of Canada “for establishing the innovative profit-sharing and employee-ownership plan at Spartan Controls and for founding the Bearspaw Benevolent Foundation.”

The Governor General of Canada makes these awards to worthy recipients in recognition of their “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.”

Well done, Nipper! Well done!


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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