Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Friend


It is often said that you can count your real friends with the fingers of one hand. Why could this be true? Perhaps it is because friendship is sharing part of our self with others unconditionally and the more that is shared, the stronger the friendship becomes. Most of us place severe limitations on the extent of sharing to avoid our vulnerability. It really boils down to trust.
We probably share more with our family members because we have already many experiences in common. But extending the trust to outsiders needs careful consideration. Many of us strive to share but don't do it enough or we may resort to gossip and maligning others to achieve temporary companionship. As a teacher, it has been a common experience to observe young people spending a great deal of time running down acquaintances behind their backs to cement their acceptance in a small group. The allegiances are constantly changed because there is very little trust involved.
Above all we are mindful of exposing ourselves too much. How often do we share something and then say, "don't tell anyone else about this" or, "keep it between you and me".
There is an interesting new phenomenon on the internet, in sites like Face Book, where people collect "friends" like stamps to show any one who logs-on how many they have. Some of them might hardly ever be contacted and sharing of anything personal would likely remain very restricted.
Some religious individuals may treat God as their best friend. This is easier because the trust can be unconditional and the response can be anticipated if not always fulfilled.
This lack of trust in most of us toward our fellow human beings is the real problem in our world and will never be completely resolved. Such a statement is, of course, obviously naive but the need to try to address it is paramount. Whole countries display varying degrees of trust or distrust which lead to either cooperation or grave danger.
One country can call another "its friend" or "foe" depending on the level of trust one might have for the other. Iran and Israel certainly do not have much mutual, unconditional sharing; and we know what that could lead to. Canada, the US and the UK are considered "good friends" but then they have much history in common to start with. This makes it much easier for trust to exist.
Greed, Power and Religion, both in individual relationships and international cooperation, can be all significant antagonists to trust. They have been driving forces through our history. Our ego gets in the way of our sharing with others in all three of these. The first two are obvious but differences in faith have been the cause of wars, persecution and suffering throughout the ages. When we consider our beliefs to be right and another's wrong, we can never share, trust or be true friends.
This is why we can only count our real friends with a few fingers.

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