FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, April 10, 2003
Every Thursday morning I make my way across town to the Hannigan's restaurant for the best breakfast in town. Each day the same crowd appears at about the same time exchanging banter and views on the topics of the day. Without a doubt they are indeed friends. Though we all use that term and have some feeling for what it means, in practice being a friend is a very important thing, so important that we often judge people by the friends they have, "you can tell a lot about a person by the friends they keep." We also talk of guilt by association. Being someone's friend is a significant factor in determining who we are and who they are, for indeed friends are friends often because of their affinity with one another.
From the outset we learn that if we are going to be friendly toward someone and eventually discover ourselves to be their friend much happens between each party to develop that friendship and the occurrence of friendship is a mutual shared experience.
What seems to take place is that friendships evolve, people with similar interests and tastes, or in many cases merely people who originate from a familiar location, or environment, have between them, common things, shared likes and dislikes. With friendship, the common elements are the basis for the the friendship, but it is their differences that command and build the relationship that is truly a friendship. Friends over time come to respect each other, recognise the differences between them and appreciate those differences allowing each to be his, or her own person, be unique and accept those differences in each other. The next part of a developing friendship is once awareness of each other's preferences and differences there develops a level of trust between the two. We often refer to this trust as bonding, because the relationship develops from the respect but it is the trust each places in the other, that determines that this in fact is a friendship.
As soon as you begin to examine friendships you will discover that it is indeed not the similarities that bind friends together but it is their ability to accept in each other their differences and be able to expect from each other mutual affection. Ultimately, friends are friends because they know each other and accept each other and once that is established, they can like each other. In no case is this an exclusive event, for a friendship to exist they must share with each other their time and their willingness to always be themselves with each other.
I recall in a first year sociology class the professor helping us to understand the basic concepts of human interaction as they occur in groups and how people as a group will tend to contribute to the over all self definition of that group. This collective identity then seems to perform and act pretty much as one would expect an individual to behave, so from this we are fairly certain that the rules of behaviour we experience individual apply to groups of people interacting. This means that countries will essentially act like people, with their own distinctions, abilities and propensity to act in a specific manner. This generalisation does not apply to corporations because unlike other social or institutional groups, corporations are erected for single purpose activity, while all other forms of human grouping are multifaceted
Since the horrible attack upon our neighbours in September of 2001, there has been a lot of tension between the United States and all other countries in the world. The acts committed, were acts of relentless hate and the United States is having a very difficult time coming to terms with the idea that they as a people are "hated." At one point our prime minister who is given often to a bit of bluster and a certain lack of eloquence in either official language, but nevertheless is a man of experience and one of the keenest senses of the feelings of others ever seen in public office, he said to the Americans that perhaps they had better realise that being wealth and powerful commands a need to be humble and as he put it simple, "you ave to be nice, sometimes."
The problem for this world is that those in power in the United States come from a rather exclusive club, they are trained as, and experienced in, only one field of endeavour, they are business men. The United States President is the first leader of his country to come to office with his field of expertise being "business administration". As noted, the rules of human behaviour are suspended in business, because business is an activity specifically determined only to create profit. It is not part of society, engaged in making life better for people, offering them a service, its function is to make income.
The time span after the attacks in New York and Washington were followed by considerable need by the company C.E.O. to make a statement and he declared the most unfriendly, uncompromising and unacceptable statement. He said that all nations and all people were either with America or against America. No friend around a coffee table would make such a demand on his friends unless he was certain that his very existence was threatened and even then, he would have no right to make such a demand. The prime directive of friendship is respect and the glue of friendship is trust. No true friend would demand, or expect his friend to commit a crime, or undertake an act that would violate the fundamental principles that that person holds.
Repeatedly, since America began its wars, first in Afghanistan then in Iraq, Canadians have become more and more uneasy about their friends behaviour. In Afghanistan Canadian soldiers acting under command of American leadership violated the terms of the Geneva Convention, something which those Canadian officers and men have declared themselves as upholders of international law yet the Joint Task Force commando unit turned over captured prisoners of war to Americans who broke the law and those prisoners have been mishandled, tortured and held indefinitely in Cuba, out of reach of America's own legal system. During an uprising of Taliban prisoners, Americans were present and in control, when surviving prisoners of war were put in containers where most died. These war crimes were committed by our friends and we all know that a person is judged by the friends they keep.
When the United States, for what ever reasons, decided it was their intent to invade Iraq our government and our prime minister stated clearly that the reasons were unjust and we as a country could not accept those conditions and would not participate in such a war. The Americans as a country, their ambassador and its citizens have angrily spoke of Canada and its people in a manner that is distinctly unfriendly.
Good friends can and do disagree while still liking one another, but they do not threaten each other, nor is it seemly for us as Canadians to hold out to Americans symbolic statements of affection. They either must respect and trust us, or they must seek their friendship elsewhere. We are different, we understand that Americans and their government do not respect either international law or are signatories of the International court, we can accept that, but we can not adopt their lack of respect and acceptance of international law and still be ourselves, it is not who and what we are. If Americans want us to be war criminals like them, then they have abused our friendship and both of us will suffer.

Timothy W. Shire


(music by Dionne Warwick, Gladus Knight, Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John)


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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