The United Nations has dedicated July 30 each year as International Day of Friendship. This day is dedicated to building bridges of friendship among people, countries, and cultures.
Closer to home in South America, in Paraguay, the day is celebrated each year as it was there that the first World Friendship Day was proposed in 1958. The concept is said to have been first proposed by Dr Artemio Brachio as he was having dinner with friends on the River Paraguay.
Out of this humble meeting of friends, the World Friendship Crusade was born. The World Friendship Crusade is a foundation that promotes friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of race, colour or religion.
As such on April 27, 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30 as official International Friendship Day. However, some countries, including India, celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August. The idea spread, largely through the Internet, and has now become very popular among many countries in the world today.
Friendship is a unique relationship; it is like a strong form of interpersonal bonding and communication among the friends. A World Happiness Database study found that people with close friendships are happier. So friendship is a sign of happiness.
Fortunately in Guyana, as a nation we have shared each other’s culture despite the various ethnic backgrounds. In fact to a greater extent, it is this very cultural diversity, which can divide people, is what has in fact been Guyana’s greatest strength.
Culturally, Guyanese coexist harmoniously. With the advent of social networking sites there is no doubt that friendships exist in the virtual world, and not surprisingly the day is also being celebrated online.
Social media is an important venue for interaction and conversation among the youth of today. According to a Facebook research, 71 per cent of young adults use that social media site. Instagram and Snapchat also have become increasingly important, with 52 per cent of youth using Instagram and 41 per cent using Snapchat.
The trend today is that social media, in this fast technologically advanced world, is a critical platform for making and staying in touch with friends. As such the frequency with which many use social media, it is not surprising that social media users report that social media makes them feel better connected to their friends’ feelings and to information about what is going on in their friends’ lives.
According to a recent research more than 83 per cent social media users say social media makes them more connected to information about what is happening in their friends’ lives and 70 per cent say these social platforms better connect them to their friends’ feelings.
As the world celebrates Friendship Day, we here in Guyana should use the day as an occasion to celebrate the presence of friends in our lives. Time and again, the world has witnessed so much violence, that it seems somehow we have forgotten the real meaning of friendship.
Let’s celebrate this relationship in such a way that it fades away all the hard feelings from our hearts and let the humanity prevail and together we build a beautiful and peaceful world.
To mark the International Day of Friendship, the UN encourages governments, organisations, and community groups to hold events, activities and initiatives that promote solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation.
“On this International Day of Friendship, let us strengthen bonds among individuals and generate greater respect and understanding in our world” – UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon urges.