The importance of friendship / Значение дружбы
This weekend I had my going-away party. About twenty of my friends came and it was spectacular. I threw it not so much for myself but to honor my friends, my loved ones, without whom I would not be who I am and where I am today. It was because of them that I have been able to have the courage to accomplish so much.
Vui tak dorogi mne, moyi druz’ya. You are precious to me, my friends.
It was spectacular for so many reasons. I was able to see the people I care for all at the same time, socializing and laughing together. The sound of laughter warmed me the most. I was able to forget about life for awhile and be myself. I haven’t had so much fun in a long, long time.
But the most important thing for me was that it brought friends from all aspects of my life together. That was awesome in and of itself. I love bringing people together…you never know what kind of friendships can result and what impact it will have on them.
And this, moyi druz’ya, is part of what I will be doing in Russia. I will be connecting people to one another. I will not only be enabling people to communicate with others in English, but I will be a connection between Russia and the United States. I will be more than a student ambassador and teacher–I will be a true svyaz’, a link, a connection. I am creating a bond, however small it may be in context of this whole wide world, among people of different cultures and nations. When I think about that, I feel so blessed and awed. I have been given this role and I intend to do as much as I can to fulfill it. The best thing I can possibly do is make friends there, learn from them, and teach them.
You know, it’s funny. The Russian words drug (male friend) and podruga (female friend) are related to the adjective drugoy, meaning “other.” A friend is an other, a fellow. But in a sense, it implies an equal, because they are an “other”…another person, just like you and me. I am told Russian is not the only language that has this sort of concept. I believe Greek (at least, of the ancient variety) has the same thing.
One issue related to ideas of friendship I will now touch upon (and I have a feeling it will not be the last time I do so). One of the most important things we must remember is that tolerance of others is not nearly enough. I hear people preaching tolerance and I long to tell them what I believe they are missing: that tolerance is the bare minimum, which is not sufficient in this world. Tolerance is not terrible by any means, but it hardly suffices if we want to have peace. Maybe that’s cliche, but I hope you understand what I mean. I advocate acceptance–a much higher level and standard than tolerance–which requires understanding. For understanding, we must open ourselves to others and what they have to offer us. Understanding and acceptance lead to friendship, which, to me, means greater peace and happiness.
As both a Jew and a Buddhist, I have learned much in the way of the importance of helping out and opening up to others. As a Jew, I have the concept of mitzvot ingrained into my very soul. It is the concept of helping others to make this world a better place as a matter of everyday life. As a Buddhist, I have learned to put others’ wishes at heart and add to the amount of will and determination to make their wishes come true–we make their desires our own to contribute to their happiness, our happiness, and ultimately happiness for the world. My middle school art teacher once told me, “A whisper plus a thousand equals a roar.” Words so true.
Every effort we make to connect to others makes the world a little better off, whether it’s keeping in touch with old friends or creating new friendships. I believe strongly in chaos theory–that a small event can expand to have enormous results and widespread consequences. We may not always see all of these said results or consequences, but I believe in the ripple effect, for sure.
For this, I shall reach out to our Russian fellows and offer everything I can. Whoever says that friendship can’t change the world is either lying or ignorant.
Until next time, moyi druz’ya, take care, be well, and stay strong.