During my stay in the United States for three years, I came across a good number of people from different cultural backgrounds. I met them at classes, parties and other social gatherings. Even though I was surrounded by lots of people, I felt lonely all the while. I tried to get their company candidly and earnestly, but I always sensed something missing in our relationship. Later I figured out the missing thing is nothing but friendship, a glue of emotion, which amalgamates two souls.
The feeling of oneness of two souls gives us a motivation to live and decorate our world with radiant hue. The company of true friends keeps us from all sorts of disappointments, desolation, gloominess and hopelessness. An unadulterated friendship helps us ventilate our pent up agonies and pangs, and breathe fresh air of hope and optimism. The love and compassion, support and care in a true friendship resist us from breaking down out of remorse and disillusionment. In our days of despair and frustration we seek solace and strength from our friends. Friendship between two people benefits both mutually.
Human beings are social and interactive by nature, and cannot live in isolation or solitude. From time immemorial, people are living on earth in different groups, clans, tribes or teams to fight against their common foes. The attitude of ‘we feel’ rather than ‘I feel’ injects the required vital force into them to survive all disasters, misfortunes and calamities befalling them. People may be divided into different groups in terms of religion, culture, politics, norms and customs. Sometimes, the idiosyncrasies of one group may stand in sharp contrast with the other. Their ideological differences may often disturb the harmony in their relations and put them in the world full of chaos and anarchy. Violence may take the place of peace, and turn the world into a hell. On many occasions, mutual disregard, hatred and enmity account for the faction and clash among different state and non-state actors in the world. Greed, power and self-indulgence blind the conflicting groups and drive them to let their ego win over others. Thus the absence of friendship may pulverize the balance of power.
Friendship may not always go with popularity hand in hand. Some popular persons may not have real friends whereas some unpopular ones may have some good friends who remain beside them through thick and thin. There goes a saying, ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’. In our good days we find a lot of people as friends by our side. Unfortunately, at our woe, we see many of them disappearing like flies onto the milk. They cannot be our friends in the true sense of the term, and their company should be eschewed. History teaches us that people like Brutus, Mir Jafar and Quisling stigmatized the concept of friendship through their betrayals of their friends who took them into their confidence.
Friendship does not bind two individuals into a legal obligation; rather they are always at their liberty. They are engaged in a non-formal relationship, and do their duties for each other out of love or affection. Nobody is compelled to come in aid to others.
Friendship is spiritual. It does not necessarily mean to be developed among human beings. It may grow among any living beings. The pets we keep are seen sometimes to sacrifice their lives to save their masters. The other way around, human beings driven by universal love may feel an affinity towards the animal. When we feel love for all sorts of creatures the heaven descends on the earth. ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ by ST Coleridge portrays how the brutality towards the creations of God can incur His wrath while the empathy for them can salvage us from His resentment. The feeling of friendship is divine in nature and therefore, we should uphold this virtue throughout our lives.
Friendship may become a touchstone sometimes. A frustrated person may get on the verge of ruining himself. In that situation the company of a good friend may instil in him the hope for life. His great company may alter his attitude altogether and convert him into a person full of confidence.
In fine, we can say that most of our problems on earth exist because of our selfishness. If we can rise above self-interest and develop a sense of friendship among us, we can change the world into a better place to live in for our future generations. Accentuating the need of friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals, the United Nations General Assembly in its 65th session in 2011 decided to observe 30th July as the ‘International Day of Friendship’ each year. Therefore, to deepen international friendship and fraternity, let us take a pledge to work for creating a world full of love, peace, mutual respect, camaraderie etc. and free from exploitation, hatred, terrorism, genocide, racism, xenophobia, inequality, tyranny, oppression, violence, ethnic cleansing etc. Long live our friendship and long live our mankind!
The writer is a Deputy Secretary, Planning Commission, Dhaka.
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