One of my resolutions for 2014 is to write more than I did in the past year, or more appropriately, publish more of my writings. And I had imagined to start with something that would get President Goodluck Jonathan’s army of social media defenders calling for my head as was the case around this time last year with my widely, and mostly deliberately, misunderstood sarcasm later known as the #JesusTweet.
I hadn’t given much thought to what exactly to write about until last week when I saw traces online of a misunderstanding between two people who used to be very good friends. Words went back and forth in subliminal manner, and while the exchange was not particularly vitriolic, one couldn’t miss the you-are-not-as-wonderful-as-I-made-you-believe tone on both sides.
This got me wondering, why do most friendships go down this path? What changes the moment friends disagree that turn praise-singers into critics? What happens when the wine of friendship goes sour that makes antagonists out of protagonists and births disparagement and vilification where adulation and reverence once existed?
I have found that what clad itself in the robe of friendship these days is mostly nothing but hypocrisy and the pursuit of self-interests. Friendship is a sacred covenant based on the virtues of respect, honesty, sacrifice, loyalty and trust. Friendship is not meant to be convenient, rather it should be complementary.
Friendship demands honesty, both to ourselves and to other people. Do not be in the habit of shielding your friends from criticisms, and let them bath in the sea of undeserved adulation. I remember the shock expressed by someone I was having a conversation with when I remarked that a certain friend of mine talks too much. She said “but he’s your friend, why would you say something negative like that about him” to which I replied “but I am his friend, and friendship demands that I tell him the truth about himself, both positive and negative.”
My friend is the one who helps me grow by showing me there is room for improvement, the one who tells me the truth about myself even when it hurts. My friend is the one who lets the word out in my face even when it threatens the very cord that binds us together. Such do not leave it until the dusk of friendship to say what has been in their mind all along. Such dish praise with honesty, and wield the stick without fear.
The things you say about people you used to be friends with say more about you than them. The good you saw in people when you were friends in them don’t suddenly disappear when you fight. Flaws you didn’t point out when you were friends with someone, don’t point them out when the cookie crumbles. People who see all the good in you then point out all the flaws as they see fit based on agreements/disagreements are dangerous folks. Be my friend, don’t be blind to my flaws, don’t overstate my goodness, and don’t do the opposite when we’re no longer friends.
Do not harbour friends who shy away from pointing you out when you go wrong, they are the type that see everything wrong in you when things go wrong. And I do understand sometimes friends disappoint, trust gets betrayed, good is rewarded with evil and loyalty is paid back with treachery. Even at those moments, when we have every cause to retract the good words we have said about people, it is important to not let emotions cloud our sense of judgement.
Friendships end for many reason, but whatever the reason(s) may be, there should be no cause for the demonization of someone whose presence in our life we once valued. Let friendship be true.
– Ogunyemi Bukola (@zebbook)