In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Friendship — which falls on July 30 each year — in the spirit of strengthening trust, finding common ground, and mitigating conflict. Per the U.N. website, this special day is based on the idea that “friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.”
Bridging cultural, racial, and political divides has taken on additional urgency in these turbulent times, so it seems like just what the doctor ordered.
A holiday like this naturally lends itself to expressing gratitude or striving for reconciliation in our personal lives. Consider these scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Is there a particular person in your neighborhood or in your larger social or professional circle whose lived experience is very different from yours, and who has recently been helpful to you in some way great or small? Maybe they went the extra mile to assist you with a time-sensitive task. Perhaps they said something that touched you or gave you a new insight. Or they may have cared for someone in your family who was sick.
What can you share with them about the positive effect they had on you and/or another? Can you thank them with a card, a note, or an email?
- Scenario 2: Have you had a recent disagreement with someone, wishing you had approached the situation differently? What would you do instead if you had the interaction to do over again? What made you respond as you did? In which respects are you both on the same page otherwise?
Is there a way you can resolve the situation? In some cases, a phone/video call (or, if the individual is in your immediate environment, an in-person conversation) may be most appropriate for trying to set things right. However, it can still be very helpful to write them a letter — even one you never plan to send — if only for the purpose of solidifying your thoughts and trying on a few key phrases for size in advance of taking further action.
If you decide to pursue either (or both) of these activities, I’d love to hear how it went for you. Did your efforts have the desired effect(s)? What additional guidance would (have) be(en) helpful? Your feedback may inspire a future post!
In the meantime, here’s to friends of every stripe, and to peace.