During a recent BIG re-union, we gathered as a group for a photograph. As we moved around, some had drinks in their hand, and some exhaled nicotine. A young boy of about 8, spoke to his mother, “You are not a true friend to these people. If you were, you would ask them not to drink or smoke.”
I honour the mother because instead of hushing her child (which is the common parental reaction in hierarchical societies) she spoke it out – and I joined my voice with her.
People old enough to be this boy’s grandparents were humbled that night. Whether they stop drinking/ smoking is not the point here, the point is that they had no answer/ repartee to counter him. All they could say was, “Son, you are right. Theek bol raha hai tu.” (Thankfully, the boy’s father doesn’t indulge in any of this and I could see how proud the boy was of his Dad. In fact, the entire family carried an air of rare dignity about them. I so loved their energy.)
In a similar vein, if in case of a family feud/ conflict, one person enjoys love/ hospitality/ care/ adoration of both estranged sides, without making any efforts to bring a reconciliation (or putting each other’s point across), that person is not a true friend to either side.
A true friend always has your best interest in mind/heart – and doesn’t refrain from speaking the bitter truth; if such a situation arises. However, after making his/her position clear, s/he also honours an individual’s choice – knowing that the choices have consequences and each one has to face the consequences of their choices.
A true friend doesn’t sacrifice your well-being, in an attempt to please you. S/he spells it out – loud and clear.
A true friend also apologizes if s/he has been the cause of your pain.
Alas, such true friends are rare, because most of us are not even our own true friends!
It takes a great amount of courage to be a “true” friend.