New notion of global friendship celebrated
Human life is distinguished from other forms of life on earth by the level of individual intelligence, social interactions and high cognitive capacity on both the individual and group’s level. Human beings cannot live in isolation from each other. Individuals are connected through different links forming different types of social bonds. Family is the basic unit for human organization, in the literal meaning of the word. Families are built organically via direct biological and cultural ties. It is the main developer and transmitter of values and norms that shape one’s identity.
On the other hand, friendships are the voluntary selection of the one’s social connections. It is common to say that “friends are the family we choose for ourselves” as it builds non-biological ties between individuals and groups (neighbors, cities, countries).
The different social and human ties have failed in producing a safe and prosperous country. The entire globe has entered a phase of unprecedented brutality from natural to human made disasters.
Crises and violations have turned to be part of the global culture where people are getting adapted to the surrounding wars and disturbances.
There is no place immune anymore from terrorism after it is being disseminated to tap into the culture of all peoples around the world. We notice the international efforts from conventions, initiatives, and programs to promote the culture of peace and non-violence on one hand; and the failure of preventing terrorism and violent extremism on another hand.
With so much that humanity is passing through, such as destruction and violence, the noble and valuable sentiment of humanity and the core values of human rights are still failing to be applied. This requires our focus on addressing the root causes of all our shared challenges and problems and sharing a spirit of human solidarity where “friendship” is its essential form.
The concept of “friendship” at all levels evolves at the personal and global levels due to the impact of all surrounding circumstances. At certain points, we might be so sociable with hundreds of acquaintances, but can rarely experience the strong ties of friendship. Sunday, July 30, is the International Day of Friendship as a recognition of the United Nations to the relevance and importance of friendship in promoting a dialogue among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation. As friendship is among individuals, it is among the world’s communities, countries and nations.
Active citizenship and reconciliation in communities are based on strong ties of trust among all components; that is the core ingredient of the safety net and stability of the community. Trust is key for any friendship spirit among the community that generates passion among citizens and residents to cooperate and unite for social welfare and development of their community. Moreover, strategic partnerships and relations among countries are based on mutual interests and friendship to formulate agreements aiming for benefiting and developing countries.
Successful regional and international organizations and leagues are based on friendship among a limited number of countries that share common interests, current circumstances, history and/or cultures. The G-7, G-20, BRICS, Gulf Cooperation Council are all examples of cooperation among countries based on friendship factors.
We can notice how concrete and effective resolutions and approaches are being implemented successfully in shorter terms and more importantly reaching their set targets unlike international organizations and cooperations that are being dysfunctional by the opposing and conflicting states.
Notwithstanding that international relations are driven by national domestic interests, individual friendships between leaders have often reinforced international peace and conflict resolution. Several international techniques in mediation and conflict resolution have promoted building personal friendships among negotiators in order to increase the odds of success.
“Virtual friendship” is another form of friendship that is being structured through various social media means such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This kind of virtual friendships have influenced normal human interactions negatively and positively via increasing the ratio of conversations and interactions while decreasing substance. Such type of friendship is worth studying as it has high impact on individuals’ attitudes and practices, and has contributed in shifting the concept and tools of friendship.
On the occasion of the International Day of Friendship, it is worth highlighting that friendship is not a personal issue anymore. However, it is a universal concept that shall be studied and promoted globally to hinder all emerging forms of violence and conflicts. We shall go deep into the “friendship” concept as a developmental factor and not a social and personal one in order to deal with our challenges and crises innovatively.
Hiba Huneini is manager of the Youth & Civic Engagement Program at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.