Paxeducare’s Blog

Some Jottings on Friendship November 16, 2010
November 16, 2010, 3:50 pm
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Some Jottings on Friendship

                Most of us can probably count on one hand the number of people by whom we feel truly understood and accepted on the deepest levels. And what a gift this can be, to be as we truly are, in the presence of another, unveiling our souls without judgment and without an expectation of retort. This, is essence, for me is the definition of friendship. I was curious about friendship, so I went to Wikopedia and found these items forming a definition of the word:

1.  a tendency to desire what is best for the other

2.  offering support and empathy

3.  honesty

4.  mutual understanding and compassion

5.  trust

6.  positive reciprocity

                “See how joyfully the presence of a friend worketh upon the intellect”, said Emerson.
“The arrival of a friend tempts thoughts and emotions out of their dark corners, so that instantly he [sic] is rich, eloquent and hopeful by the mere activity of his own mind”. What we experience in true friendship is our own hearts and minds being offered up, not only to our friends, but as importantly, to ourselves, as we enter into communion with those dear to us. We become a better person for the presence of friends.

                With friends, we engage in the responsible tasks inherent in conversation and dialogue. The Latin root word of “responsible” is “respondere”, which means “promise”. (footnote M Yokata, Ikdeda). What a wonderful way to think about our friendships-we promise to uphold the best in them as they do the same for us. These tasks must include active listening. The tendency for us humans is to eschew this and to put our own needs first. “Humans do not take to this naturally, we are basically selfish”. This statement is from the Buddhist educator/philosopher . A harsh judgment from a Buddhist thinker, but, I must say, true to my own experience. I am humbled by the realization of how often I do not engage in the process of active listening and wait, while conversing with a friend, for the chance to jump in with my own judgments, statements or opinions.

                It seems obvious that there is a connection between the tasks inherent in building friendship and world peace. If we believe in the idea that at the core of peacebuilding is relationship and that friendship signifies the highest form of relationship, then it behooves us to do all we can to help teach the art of friendship. The good news is that the tasks inherent are teachable. We can teach dialoguing and we can teach listening. The best time to start is early. That is why I believe that the family is the most important educator and lays the foundation for all future moral learning. Empathy is learned from the everyday modeling that we see, with love at its core, in our best familial interchanges.