Day of Friendship

Every 30 July is the International Day of Friendship. Designated by the United Nations it encourages governments, communities, organisations and individuals to celebrate the friendships that we have. The idea is to focus on reconciliation, bridging understanding, finding consensus and taking comfort in those friendships in our lives.

The world at the moment seems a place full of division, intolerance and hostility. With so much discrimination, miscommunication, distrust and discord there is a real need to cherish the friendships we have and strive to form new ones. Both individually and as a society or organisation.

So what is a true friend? Well there is no one answer really. In some cultures friendship is restricted to a small number of people with whom you have a strong, close relationship. In other cultures a more Facebook like approach is common with people having dozens if not hundreds of friends. There is no right or wrong answer. Friendships are often spawned from common interests or circumstances – same school / college, neighbourhood, workplace, antenatal groups, etc.

As Henri Nouwen (Dutch Priest, Writer and Theologian) put it, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand”.

Friends are important as they help you to enjoy the good times and also provide help, solace and support in the bad times. They also help to stave off loneliness and isolation as well as give us a sense of belonging. And you need this support in all parts of your life. So you need a best friend at work as well as in your social circle.

So this Day of Friendship why not do something special. Perhaps rekindle a friendship you have neglected. Or resolve to make a new friend by attending a community group or class or just start a conversation with someone. It’s also a time to reflect on the friendships you have and what sort of friend you are. Be the sort of friend you would want and you will soon have great friendships.

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