Dr Rajan Philips -
A good friend is worth his weight in gold. Friendships have been treasured and nurtured above many other human ties since the dawn of human civilisation.
But a special day set apart annually to reflect on the value of friendship on a global scale is, surprisingly, a relatively recent development.
In the United States the definite push for a Friendship Day came from Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark cards in 1919, who suggested the first Sunday of August as the day. Initial response was rather lukewarm as the step was interpreted as a commercial gimmick to promote greeting cards.
The next initiative came from South America. A specific proposal for a worldwide observance came on July 20, 1958 from Dr Artemio Bracho during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, a town on the River Paraguay. The day proposed was July 30. This modest meeting of friends, led to the birth of the World Friendship Crusade. It has grown into a formidable foundation that has the lofty objective of promoting friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of race, colour or religion.
The relevance of the movement is that the crying need for peace and prosperity in a world torn by devastating strife and wars can be achieved only by fostering genuine friendship among human beings.
It was because of the persevering efforts of this World Friendship Crusade that in 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30 as official International Friendship Day. But some couturiers prefer to mark the Day on the first Sunday of August and yet others on dates they consider convenient. What really matters is that the concept is well entrenched today globally.
Socio-religious occasions like the iftar get-together are so common during this month that it provides ample opportunity for the expression of friendship that borders on brotherhood.
Fostering great friendship and goodwill among the youth and the nations they represent is a key objective of global mega sports extravaganzas like the 30th Olympic Games now in progress in London.
Writers and thinkers have expressed themselves profusely on the theme. Memorable movies and plays that celebrate the ideal of true friendship are found in abundance.
True and faithful friends are hard to come by. They never let you down or talk ill of you. They would apply the ‘Triple Filter Test’ advocated by the Greek philosopher when someone came to him and offered to say something about his friend.
The first was the filter of truth. Socrates asked him if the information was authentic. The second filter was that of goodness. The third filter was that of usefulness.
‘If the story about the friend was false, bad and of no use to listener what’s the point of telling it? Socrates asked.
Today, of course, the Internet and mobile phones are there to convey our sentiments of love and regard for friends wherever they may be, so quickly and effectively.
True friendship is a great relationship that blends affection, trustworthiness, care, respect, and even loads of fun. World Friendship Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate the presence of such precious friends in our lives.
Great friendship quotes:
• Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.
• A friend is one who knows you, but loves you anyway.
— Fr Jerome Cummings
• The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend. — Abraham Lincoln
• Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend. — Albert Camus