The International Day of Friendship was “proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities” (United Nations, 2020). This day, dedicated to peace and community, is much needed with our current socio-cultural climate. We need, and must inspire, both community and peace.
The International Day of Friendship, which is July 30th, is a day that is defined by the “proposal made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and taken up by the UN General Assembly in 1997…which defined the Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes and [behaviors] that reject violence and [endeavor] to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems” (United Nations, 2020). It is a day to share a socially-distanced hug, share a memory, and share a smile (beneath your mask) with those who you hold dear, with those who need it the most, and with all who inhabit this earth – we need to spread the flame of friendship.
Most importantly, the goal of the International Day of Friendship is to create, display, and promote peace. This can be done in various ways, including:
Fostering a culture of peace through education and awareness;
Promoting and modeling respect for all human rights;
Ensuring equality between all peoples;
Advancing understanding, awareness, acceptance, and tolerance and solidarity;
Partaking in communication and dialogue to listen, to learn, and to grow;
Encouraging and supporting international peace and security (United Nations, 2020).
The UN’s statement provides a simple starting point in combating social injustices: work toward making friends. Friendships begin through conversation and getting to know one another. No, we cannot be intimate friends with everyone we come in contact with, but we can treat all people as if they were our friends; we would treat them with respect and with empathy.
Our world is fragmented right now, but we can make it better – stronger even – if we learn to embrace the ability to listen to each other, respect each other, and understand that while not everyone may think the same way we do, other perspectives and viewpoints advance our awareness, knowledge-base, and empathy.
We’re all human. We all have feelings and experiences. We’re all in this together; so, let’s celebrate our friendships!