International Day of Friendship

In Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

Whatever side of the political aisle you sit, it is hard to deny that we are living in an incredibly divisive time. It seems like every time we look at the news, there are three new national stories that seem to fuel peoples’ passions and widen the divide. For the sake of our Country and for the sake of our own mental health, it is important to occasionally step back to look at what we have in common, instead of focusing on our differences. For example, even if we have fundamental disagreements, we should not doubt that every one of us wants to leave the world a better place for our children.

With that in mind, July 30th is the International Day of Friendship. Initiated by the United Nations in 1997, this day of recognition was created to highlight the worldwide crises of “poverty, violence, and human rights abuses that undermine peace, security, development, and social harmony among the world’s peoples.” The UN has determined that the root of these problems can be addressed by promoting the “spirit of human solidarity”, or friendship.

Amongst the proclaimed goals of this day of friendship are that:

  • Friendship is a “noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world.”
  • Friendship between “peoples, countries, cultures” can inspire worldwide peace efforts.
  • There should be an emphasis on encouraging young people and leaders to engage in activities that promote “international understanding and respect for diversity”.

With these admirable goals in mind, there are several ways to work toward a better world for our children.

  • Demonstrate what friendship looks like to your children. Your children look to your example to inform how they act. Let them see what it looks like to help and care for your friends, and model to them how your resolve conflict.
  • Treat people with respect and let your children see it. This applies to people you like, people you don’t like, and strangers. Children should see that not all people constantly yell at each other as often depicted on many news channels.
  • Mindfully expose your children to diversity—diverse people, diverse cultures, and diverse foods. Try to travel internationally, to the extent possible. This will allow them to grow up with a greater worldview. In addition, volunteer and encourage your children to volunteer so that helping people is normalized in their lives.

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