"I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love."
It's hard to improve on the wise and hopeful words of Nelson Mandela. But his sentiment will be writ larger beginning May 26 as part of an exhibit that pairs visual and written material on the theme "Coexistence."
The international traveling show will run for three weeks outdoors along Asylum Avenue in front of The Hartford. The corporate sponsor has generously brought it to the capital city and the neighborhood as a catalyst for conversation about how to respect each other and live with our differences.
There can be no timelier topic in a global society, no more useful message or more arresting way to express it. Several colorful street kiosks will feature poster-sized, graphic visual statements by artists from around the globe on the importance of racial, ethnic, gender and religious tolerance. Most are accompanied by eloquent words from a noted writer, world leader, poet or philosopher, from Aristotle to Maya Angelou, Thomas Jefferson to Eleanor Roosevelt, Yitzhak Rabin to Yoko Ono.
The art is bold and accessible. When paired with the text, it is especially inspiring.
Hartford is fortunate to have this exhibition, which has been viewed by millions since 2001 in major cities such as Jerusalem, Berlin, Copenhagen and Sarajevo. It is the brilliant creation of Raphie Etgar, curator at the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem, which describes itself as existing "between war and peace, between distress and well-being, between religious faith and secularism, between reality and hope, between you and me."
This is a wonderful way to promote the understanding that diversity enriches life. The Hartford will even challenge young people to submit their own art on the theme for display on the corporation's website.
It's a must-see for children. The earlier they join the dialogue of tolerance, the more hope for the future.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at