International Day of Friendship (30th July 2017)
“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.
― A.A. Milne,
In honor of Friendship Day in 1998, Nane Annan wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations. In 2011 the United Nations declared July 30th to be the International Day of Friendship, which signifies the unification of all people regardless of gender, race, religion, political views or geological positioning. Friendship between peoples, countries and cultures can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.
As adults we all remember our first childhood friend. The one we woke up excited to see inside the school gates. Play dates filled with adventure, confidences and laughter. As it remains, our friends are a hugely important part of our lives, from sharing problems, asking for advice, uncontrollable laughter and good times, sharing our life events and proudest moments, our friends help each of us define who we are.
For children, making friends is a vital part of growing up and an essential part of their social and emotional development. Attributes such as social competence, altruism, self-esteem and self-confidence have all been found to be positively correlated to having friends. Studies have found that friendships enable children to learn more about themselves and develop their own identity. And, as children mature, friends are able to help reduce stress and navigate challenging developmental experiences, especially during teenage years.
Today, our world faces many challenges, crises and forces of division, such as poverty, violence and human rights abuses, among many others. These undermine peace, security, development and social harmony among the world’s peoples.
To confront those crises and challenges, their root causes must be addressed by promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms; the simplest of which is friendship.
Through friendship, by accumulating binds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust, we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good.
Young people, as our future leaders, have the opportunity be actively involved in creating a more inclusive, understanding and respectful societies by championing diversity and by welcoming friends from all walks of life into their lives and inviting diversity into their communities, cities and countries.