The International Day of Friendship is a United Nations initiative developed from a proposal made by UNESCO in 1997, which defined a Culture of Peace as a set of values.
Acknowledging the damaging effects that violence and social upheaval have on countries and communities, and especially children, the proposal was for a culture of peace to be promoted through education in order to overcome attitudes of intolerance and violence. Learning to communicate effectively, understand and appreciate our differences and resolve disagreements, ultimately contributes to local and international security. Basically, making friends with more people lessens the chance of intolerance, conflict and injustice.
Inspire, support and uplift
The International Day of Friendship recognises and celebrates the value and importance of our friendships. Most of us find our lives enriched by valued, trusted and precious friends that can inspire, support and uplift us. The ‘give and take’ between friends is the linchpin of a balanced and cohesive society; friendships build trust and understanding.
The promotion of the attitudes of understanding, reconciliation, friendship, respect and inclusion is something we can all relate to, whatever our age, gender or cultural background. “Through friendship — by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust — we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability,” explains the UN.
The International Day of Friendship is celebrated this year on 30th July and many groups and organisations are likely to hold events, so it will be worth checking your local press to see what’s on. But why wait for an organised event to celebrate friendship? There’s much we can do in our day-to-day lives to promote these principles.
Making time for friendship
Celebrating our own friendships doesn’t need to be a costly or elaborate affair; making the time is the main thing. Many of us feel ‘time poor’ as we juggle work, family and the care of others and it’s all too easy to forget to make time for those whose company we value most. Popping round to a friend for a cup of tea or meeting up with a group of friends in the local coffee shop or community centre can be all it takes to show your friends you appreciate them.
Being friendly to those we interact with is a good way to spread some goodwill and build relationships. As we are all aware, loneliness and social isolation are, sadly, big issues for many in our communities, old and young alike. A smile and a friendly greeting cost nothing but can mean a great deal to the recipient. As W. B. Yeats famously said: ‘There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met’.