Being in the same place, in the same family, in the same city is to live with the other, to live with others. Simple proximity is what defines the coexistence between people, between beings.

Proximity also encompasses temporality and is so comprehensive in this sense that it explains the concepts of contemporaneity and antiquity. Coexistence scenarios are experienced (nurtured) now, before and after, both near and far.

Living with another people is to share the same space, the same time, but also to participate in what happens with the other. The question of participation in coexistence is an obligation that has been reduced to almost no sense of coexistence, although it is what maintains it in terms of tranquility, or what turns it into difficulty, creating obstacles, turning meetings into clashes, disputes, quarrels, and discord.

These aspects of disharmony hamper conviviality, since the parts have been distorted into totalities, contexts from which the patterns of coexistence are defined, configured. It is no longer just being near, in the same space or in the same family that defines conviviality: the vectors, the signs that structure values and rules create groups where people feel represented and are their representatives. The equal, the different, the stranger and what is considered good or bad are integrated or disintegrated from these meanings. The coexistence now is between equals and between different ones.

Societies are sets where directions and spaces are defined according to socioeconomic standards. Spaces for the rich, for the poor, for the handicapped are created so that social coexistence is not disturbing. Crackers zone1, forbidden spaces, and limits of death - in certain urban agglomerations - establish the meaning of coming and going. There is the forbidden, the allowed, what will cause injury and death; in the counterpart, as well, other situations can lead to fame and power. The meaning of places is given as a function of what circulates through them and the places they include, from churches, hospitals, prisons, to the antechambers of power.

The question of coexistence is no longer an open, continuous question, it is not typical of human beings, but rather a representative mix of everything that must be selected, continued and discontinued: prejudices, fears, anxiety, insecurity fill these gaps, support these tentacles. Values create spaces, establish limits, allow inclusion, invasion, and threat. Areas of poverty, on any periphery of cities, often have open-air waste, creating space for coexistence with other species: insects or even cockroaches and rats create problems and diseases, destroying the men who live with them. And so, living with the other is totally differentiated according to these social and economic values, where a conviviality generating conflicts and difficulties is very different from the situations in which to coexist is to situate in relation to the other, to oneself and to the world, questioning, embracing, discontinuing, continuing what is around.

The lucidity and the questioning prevent men from being transformed into an object, allowing space for coexistence, as well as dialogue, meetings, and creative interaction of meaningful and humanizing coexistence.


1 Crackers: crack users. Some Brazilian cities have areas where crack addicts live or spend hours and days indulging in drug use.