Celebrating International Day of Friendship
Building Friendship with Love
and Promoting Solidarity with Conscience
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze
President of Federation of World Peace and Love
Vice-President of Association of World Citizens
Zhang-men-ren of Tai Ji Men
Jul. 30, 2021
Today is the International Day of Friendship, which is an initiative based on UNESCO's proposal and adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997, defining the Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors that reject violence and promote dialogues among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.
Our world faces many challenges, crises, and divisions that undermine peace, security, development, and social harmony among the world's people, including poverty, violence, and human rights violations. An outbreak of COVID-19 began in 2019, and to this day the pandemic has not come to an end. All these challenges have caused anxiety for many people and undermined global peace and security. We have to ask ourselves what on earth went wrong. What can we do to solve the problems and atone for our mistakes?
As we reflect upon the past, we realize that with the rapid development of technology and our daily lives, we have lost the balance between humans and nature, the warmth and care between people is fading little by little, and the relationships we have with ourselves are often in discord. As we pursue fame, power, fortune, and material comfort, our inherent kind hearts have gradually been blinded by greed. Our love, originally sincere and kind, has changed. The relationships between people are growing more distant, and the ties between people are getting weaker. As a result, fighting, cursing, and grumbling occur. Additionally, human overexploitation of our planet has resulted in the extinction of species and the counterattacks of nature, leaving humans vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters.
The key to solving all these problems is conscience. As long as we reclaim our conscience, we will restore a virtuous cycle of kindness and rebuild a warm society. In the time of globalization, the issues we face will not be solved by a single country or a few nations. The thoughts or actions from an individual can cause a huge ripple effect across the world. Therefore, it’s time for nations and people to work together to solve humanity's common crises. The International Day of Friendship was established to remind us to address the root causes of the crises and challenges facing all humanity by promoting solidarity and defending the common spirit of human cooperation. Solidarity comes in many forms, the simplest and most natural of which is friendship.
Friendship is an emotion that develops as a result of human interactions. It is an intangible force of kindness. A thought of kindness is the cornerstone of building and maintaining friendships. A small act, such as a simple greeting, a smile, and a few kind words, can make others feel very warm inside, bringing warmth to everyone. Those who are affected by such interactions will become happier. This is the so-called virtuous cycle. Friendship is a two-way street. Positive feedback generated by good sentiments can foster trust and reciprocity in relationships that go beyond immediate, short-term interests. It can lead to a friendship where two or more parties are willing to work together to achieve the same goal and solve problems. By maintaining friendships and creating strong bonds and trust with others, we can weave a safety net for all and inspire people’s passion for a better world, where we all work together for a higher ideal, which is the realization of global prosperity, peace, and sustainability. Over the past 20 plus years, FOWPAL members and I have visited 101 countries, forging precious friendships with people from different cultures and ethnicities through cultural exchanges. The best part of human friendship is bringing together peace lovers from around the world to work for a safer and more sustainable future.
The pandemic is a global crisis, but it also presents opportunity. Although people are required to maintain physical distances from one another, sophisticated Internet technology allows them to express their feelings and communicate with others, substantially reducing the time and space gap. We can give blessings, love, and care to others "instantly" by wisely using social media and other networks, providing enormous encouragement to people who are lost and helpless. In these trying times, we have gained a deeper understanding of the nature of friendship: care, tolerance, cooperation, as well as the positive energy it brings: love, courage, and hope. Negative emotions and behaviors are counterproductive to getting through the crisis. We are interdependent. Only by replacing competition with cooperation and communicating with and helping one another can all global citizens overcome the pandemic and create prosperity in the post-pandemic era.
Since April 5, 2020, FOWPAL has observed various United Nations days virtually with friends from around the world through live streaming, to exchange information and good practices, as well as spread conscience to all corners of the world. Such a platform has brought people closer together and removed the barrier of being unable to get together due to the pandemic. In this light, technology has been used to strengthen friendships and facilitate the world's steady development!
On this special day, let us celebrate the importance of friendship. We are empowered to overcome difficulties because of our courage and hope. We are not alone because of love. The world will be a better place only when everyone is a better person. May everyone be kind and sincere, and may people form warm friendships based on love to create a harmonious world where genuine truth, genuine kindness, and genuine beauty prevail! May the event be a great success. May all of you be blessed with peace and happiness.
*Presented at the ICDAY’s virtual event in support of UN International Day of Friendship