We all need friends

Amal Chatterjee
8 min readDec 2, 2017

Source: Google photo

Synopsis: The basis of all true friendship is sharing, caring,understanding,tolerance of different views and friendship with no string attached. The blog throws some light on various aspects of friendship and explains why some friendship endure while others do not. When selfishness and religious as well as cultural bias enters the picture then people can not become friends easily.

In this big world no matter where we live, we feel the need to talk to someone who shares the same passion and the same interest that may create the bond due to the shared experiences and tribulations. We all feel at one time or other that life is full of ups and downs but never static.

Some of us have good experiences and other may have bad experiences because we generally speaking have little control over such things and go through them as a part of the experience we gain in the process and hopefully learn a lesson or two so that it may help us make better decisions in the future.

The ability to learn from our past experiences good or bad may ultimately depend on us and how we define and handle the experiences to make ourselves better in the future but it is also a fact of life that some people never learn from their past mistakes and bad experiences and commit the same mistakes again and again to their own detriment. Just ask an inveterate gambler why he gambles and he will tell you that he is addicted to it and can’t do without gambling even if he knows that it is destroying his life and the lives of his loved ones.

Ask any alcoholic why he drinks and he will tell you that he can’t do without it even if he knows it is killing him. One fellow told me that only one of his lungs was working but he could not stop smoking so he died soon thereafter.

So we all need friends who can help us stay on the path of virtue and away from bad habits and bad experiences that are closely related to each other but how many of us are so lucky to find such friends? The dark side of human nature drags some people down the path of self-destruction because of the allure of the vices and the company that promotes the vices so they keep their company to feel happy. This comes from the inherent human need to find a friend whose company gives them pleasure so they willingly seek out such “friends” who are really no friends at all because they drag you down the road of no return.

I knew a wonderful boy who was very smart and had a good job but was very unhappy in his life due to a very bad marriage so he sought the company of alcoholics who convinced him that the bottle was the way out even if temporarily. The bottle eventually killed him at an early age.

In the Philippines they are called the canto boys who always hang around the street corners and will invite you to drink with them and convince you because it is not fun to drink alone. They are total failures in life and exert a very negative influence on a young person who feels lonely and joins them against the wishes of his parents or siblings and soon finds himself on a road to no return.

We see this phenomenon everywhere due to the loneliness young people feel because they have no friends in their school or their community so seek out those who introduce him or her to drugs, sex and alcohol or even a life of crime. This need to have someone he or she can call a friend is a basic human need because everyone feels this need at some point in his life.

Later this loneliness drives some people to join some religious groups or cults that may even have very destructive influences on them. The Charles Manson cult or the Jonestown cult in British Guyana in South America is perhaps an extreme case of such harmful association but they prey on the young and very vulnerable people who can be easily influenced by their promise of happiness.

I remember a period in the United States when young boys and girls joined the hippies and became a part of their group very willingly because of the allure of smoking pot and wild sex that was like an aphrodisiac to them. Jenny in the movie “Forrest Gump” was a typical girl who joined such group and died young due to her promiscuous life of drugs and alcohol. They set up hippie camps in the wilderness and lived there sharing everything including their bodies because they felt the need to have friends and were willing to pay the price such “friends” exacted.

It was a movement born out of the frustration of the Vietnam war where young people were dying needlessly and they felt helpless and impotent to do something about it. The material culture in which they grew up made them despise it so they threw away everything they considered decadent and lived a primitive life somewhere sharing whatever they had just so that they could feel their companionship that brought them temporary happiness .

The need for friendship was genuine although perhaps the method to gain friends was not ideal but we live in an imperfect world where many factors influence the young lives of boys and girls including the tremendous pressure to go to college, get an employment and marry. This pressure often makes the young people rebellious so they seek the company of likeminded people who drop out. I have seen how happy they become after a few puffs on their marijuana cigarette.

Many smoke a few joints at some time and grow out of it , finish their college education, get jobs and get married while there are those who never grow out of it because they prefer the hippie life and can’t go back to the former life even if they try.

David Carradine was a famous Hollywood actor but he took to drugs and alcohol that eventually destroyed him. If he could come back and talk, he would probably have said that he had no friends and was lonely in spite of his fame and money. There are many such people.

The question therefore arises why some people make friends easily while others fail to do so and are called loners all their lives. Why some people become introverts and other become extroverts who are popular in their school, their community or their offices.

This has something to do with the upbringings and the good or bad job parents do in raising their kids. I had a classmate who was a loner and was incapable of making friends with anyone because of his super strict father who raised him in his own image.

A child is innocent at first and makes friends if his parents and siblings provide a loving and sharing atmosphere at home where they teach him good values and empathy. If he or she comes from a strict household where parents are mean, selfish and fight over silly matters all the time, who live beyond their means and get into financial troubles, where domestic violence prevails over such matters and where they neglect to provide the right environment to grow then you can easily see its effect on the innocent child.

It is not unheard of that a very strict Bible thumping pastor’s daughter runs away from home and elopes with someone her parents will never approve of just because she feel suffocated living with her strict parents and seeks a way out. I have heard this from many young people that it is their right to make mistakes so no one can stop them.

Now the internet offers many sites where people seek friendship, date and some even find someone they marry. I am not writing about the mail order brides sites that are now an industry in their own right but those who only seek friendship to fill the void they feel in their life and use the net.

This has a downside to it so I may as well write about it. You have all heard that there are numerous websites that entice young women into prostitution through the net promising them boyfriends. There are spurious job advertisements that lure unsuspecting young women to prostitution in the Middle East and elsewhere and there are numerous sites that promote exciting love and sex life to vulnerable girls who feel lonely and join such groups only to find that they are forced to become sex slaves in the hands of jihadists who pass these slaves around among themselves.

So the need to have someone who can become a friend is universal. I have seen and felt that people will extend their hand in friendship even if they do not know you at all and smile in most countries. All one has to do is to smile and say hello. It is that simple.

Why then people are so afraid to smile and say hello? What makes people so reticent that they cannot take that first step to friendship? Why people are so frigid and afraid to make contact with anyone?

I think this has to do with the personality of an individual. This friendly personality has to be developed in a child at an early stage in his or her life so it boils down to the environment in which the child grows up. The parents can exert a great deal of influence and teach the child to be friendly and share what he has with anyone. That is the first step. A friendly person makes friends easily anywhere. No one likes a mean child who throws tantrums at the slightest provocation, who is aggressive and becomes a bully to other children. Such children grow up to be very mean and selfish people who then become toxic.

So the secret which is no secret at all is the idea of sharing that makes people gain friends. One has to learn to share everything (not like those hippies) that he or she values with others. It may be toys, food, trinkets, pennies from the piggy bank or time. It may be something simple like a fruit or candy or a comic book. It is the sharing that makes the bond from which a friendship can emerge that can last a lifetime.

I think a true friendship emerges when it is not tied to any religious dogma because such ties inevitably cause tension if the beliefs clash that can put a damper on any relationship. So leaving religion out of any friendship is perhaps a good way to start. There is another thing most people get very passionate about is the politics.

If you are going out on a date with someone and he or she blurts out that he is a Democrat or Republican then right away that becomes an issue and the budding friendship may wither on its vine. Two people can become friends if they leave the religion and politics out of their relationship. To make and maintain a healthy friendship one should not discuss three things I call cardinal sins among friends that are religion, sex and politics. So sex is the third topic on which no two people may agree because people have strong opinions about all three and may not accept your point of view on any of the three mentioned or all of them. This causes needless friction that is very unhealthy for any friendship.

Please read my earlier bog called “ What is friendship” where I have written about the basic framework needed to make friends so it is perhaps worth a look.

I can conclude here that although we all need friends, there is a right way and the wrong way to go about it. So I wish you readers the best of luck and may you all be blessed with lifelong friends who will uplift you and help you to become a better person. May you also learn to know those who are not your friends but pretend to be one so that you can avoid them.