The Power of Friendship
by Mitch Bogen
Special to the Tribune
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 16—Eager to explore the meaning of friendship and its power to help us overcome life’s challenges, nearly 50 Boston-area university students and young professionals joined the Ikeda Center’s fourth Dialogue Nights event of 2019, “Friendship: An Antidote to Despair?”
In welcoming remarks, Ikeda Center Program Manager Lillian I explained that she and the rest of the center program staff drew on SGI President Ikeda’s writings on friendship to develop guiding questions for the talk, including: “What is it about friendship that brings hope and courage to our lives?” “In what ways can friendships among young people become a catalyst for social change?”
The participants broke into small groups to discuss the attributes of true friendship. They identified how good friends listen with patience and the ability to be fully present for the other. Among others was the quality of being comfortable enough to be truly authentic with one another.
“A rising tide of friendship within the younger generation cannot fail to transform society.”
The next discussion focused on friendship’s capacity to alleviate despair. In particular, the youth considered President Ikeda’s statement in his 2017 Peace Proposal: “A rising tide of friendship within the younger generation cannot fail to transform society. It is my confident expectation that friendship among youth will powerfully turn back the sullied currents of divisiveness and give birth to a vibrant culture of peace based on profound respect for diversity” (daisakuikeda.org).
They agreed that climate change is their main source of despair, and that although they were not entirely clear how friendship could change the course of that crisis, they certainly saw it as a good place to start, as well as the basis for creating the kinds of communities we need to set things on a wiser path.
The evening wrapped up with an open mic session. Here are a few thoughts that emerged: “Friends can challenge you in the best way to
do better.” “Friends give you energy.” “Friends bring you peace.” “Friends mean freedom.” WT