Friendship is such an important ingredient for a peaceful society that it really is quite surprising we do not celebrate it more. They say that friends are the family we choose for ourselves, and that somehow places friends in a secondary role in our lives. It is true though that friends can and do play the role in our lives that we idealise and attribute to the family–unconditional love and support, practical assistance in a crisis and the ability to weather all kinds of ups and downs.
One of the most important things that we can encourage and teach and frankly, model, is the art of friendship–making friends, being a good friend and keeping a friendship through all kinds of circumstances. A lasting friendship involves fundamental peace skills–listening, empathy, acceptance and forgiveness. As you grow older, you understand how much of a gift it is to have old friends.
Friendship across visible and invisible, social and political and national borders, are bridges that bind our society, our world and our humanity. This is why international penfriendship programmes, in the days of paper-and-envelope letters, were often a part of peace initiatives. Growing up across any political border, two children or two teenagers discovered in the simplest way, how similar they were–the oppression of homework, the tedium of formal gatherings, the joy of playing the same games, the anticipation of birthdays and festivals, or even the same crushes and the same favourites. Geopolitical concerns were so much more distant than these immediate sources of excitement and disappointment.
This year, for Friendship Fortnight, we invited the poets and poetry-lovers among our friends to share either poems they had written or poems they loved that that celebrated friendship.
As you know, Prajnya’s Friendship Fortnight starts on July 30, the International Day of Friendship, through August 2 which this year is Friendship Day for florists and card-vendors in India until August 14-15, when Pakistan and India celebrate their independence. As peace educators, we embed our hope and wish for friendship and peace in our neighbourhood into this celebration of friendship.
We will post one poem a day through the fortnight, starting today.
Here is a little thank you poem for our generous friends who have contributed to this celebration:
“Ask and ye shall receive,” it is said.
Your generous hearts,
the warmth of your words,
our dearest friends, prove
that it is true, it is true.