The common dictionary meaning of the word “friend” is: “a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.” The true meaning of this one-syllable terminology, however, goes well beyond the common generic interpretation. It is an innate, nearly second-nature feeling that transpires every time such persons meet. It is a general feeling of love, compassion and respect that no feelings of hate can concentrate through and destroy. It is the basis of unity between all humankind, the root of all great human relationships past and present and the catalyst for the spawning and creation of future ones.

Many of the songs of yesterday and today deal with such subject matter, since almost all male-female relationships in one form or another have had these humble beginnings. In fact, as I’m writing, a specific rap tune is in my head that exemplifies what I’m conveying. Although it is safe to say that most rap tunes (particularly the present-day ones) stress other alternatives, this particular one, despite being made in the mid-1980s, goes to the very heart of the matter. The song is by a group called Whodini, and it is aptly titled “Friends.” A listen to this song will give the listener a general overview of “friends,” or at least the artists’ interpretation of such.

As I am now listening to this record, my interpretation is that the song can be used somewhat as a teaching tool. That is, it can be used to advise and warn of the potential dangers and pitfalls in seeking and maintaining true friends, as well as to guide an individual to strive to become a true friend in his own right. It can be used like a general reminder of sorts, to allow the individual to access his or her own life and friendships and to give a little example of how a true friend should be.

A true friend, generally speaking, is someone you know will be there in time of need. He will always have your back, and support you when you’re right and correct you when you’re wrong. He is almost like an extended family, and in some instances, becomes such, at least in the spirit. He is your shoulder to lean on in trying times, and you feel comfortable sharing privy information with him. He has a multitude of things in common with you, and the uncommon things, or idiosyncrasies, are barely noticeable, if noticed at all.

On the other hand, a not-so-true or fair-weather friend is someone that at best you give greetings and salutations to and little else. He is someone that you can cope with from time to time, but don’t expect to hang around with for any lengthy period of time. He is not necessarily the type you would want to be comforted with in time of need and you would be overly cautious in sharing any privy information with him. The only time you would actually see or hear from this particular person is in his time of want or time of need and, in other times, he is basically nonexistent in your life. He generally has little or nothing in common with you and the uncommon traits are obvious.

With this in mind, it is exceedingly imperative for an individual to evaluate himself and his friendships and to discern between the good ones and the bad ones. It is also imperative for the individual to strive to become the best friend that he can be and to place himself in a position to make quality, lasting friendships – that is, treating others as they would want to be treated and expecting the same in return. It is a life-long process, but a necessary one to bring out the best in one’s self and his friendships and to live a fulfilled life on earth.

Jackson is a UR employee.

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