Once in a while we ought to veer from animated politico-cultural issues, so let us discuss the issue of friendship in this piece. Determining what characteristics a friend should possess is quite a daunting task, but learning from one another – via a compendium of both heartwarming and heartbreaking stories – can be helpful, even as we go about our daily lives. So, who or what is a friend? A friend could be many things: someone who sticks closer than a brother; someone who looks out for your wellbeing; someone who accepts your strengths and weaknesses unquestioningly; someone who rejoices with you when something good happens in your life, like a promotion at work or the birth of a child; someone who mourns with you when you experience tragedy, and so on.
Generally, however, you may only know a true friend when difficulties come your way: when you are sick and need someone to nurse you back to sound health, when you are out of work and need some money, when you have lost your home and need a place to rest your head temporarily, when you need a helping hand to deal with the avalanche of life's problems.
While a student at Accra Academy a little over two decades ago, James lost his lover to his best friend, Peter, just because James did not own a video player and color television (great items to own at that time!) – and Peter did! Unknown to James at the time, Peter, who secretly coveted James' girlfriend, was able to lure the lady to his place to watch movies, and when the lady realized that James did not have the wherewithal to purchase such entertainment gadgets, she allowed Peter to seduce her. Some will be quick to blame the girl because, after all, she allowed herself to fall for Peter, but can we really justify Peter's behavior and blame it all on the girl? A friend just does not do what Peter did! After all, there were so many other single girls in Accra at the time, so why did Peter take his best friend's lover?
A few years ago, while a student at the University of Ghana, Legon, a guy seduced his professed best friend's girlfriend, resulting in a prolonged affair – and the original boyfriend would not know for a very long time that he and his nefarious pal were both drinking from the same fountain of pleasure! Some may want to, once again, blame this particular girl entirely, but I believe that a greater portion of the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the devious guy, for it is wrong to seek the lover of a bosom friend. In fact, the aforementioned imprudent behavior simply breaks the rules of conventionalism!
A friend is someone who wishes others well, especially those closest to him or her. If you have a friend who shows little interest in your positive goals, just drop him or her. A friend is the husband who helps his wife with chores to ease the burden on her. A friend is the husband who encourages his wife to go back to school, if she needed to, so she could find a better job. A friend is the wife who respects her husband and encourages him to seek greater heights, without giving him a blood pressure-spiking ultimatum. A friend is the wife who refuses to criticize her husband or ridicule him openly just because he has lost his job and is having a hard time finding another. A friend is the spouse who does not pressure the other person in the marriage into committing a white-collar crime, just so their economic situation will improve markedly. A friend is the son or daughter who cares for a sick parent until that parent goes the way of all mortals, despite that child's own burdens – because it is simply the right thing to do!
A friend will tell others about your achievements, jettisoning – and giving no place to – envy or jealousy. A friend will sing your praises without being goaded – knowing all along that everyone needs the occasional encouragement in life. A friend is the lady who does not secretly wish to replace her pal who is married to a wealthy or successful man. A friend is the lady who refuses the advances of her friend's boyfriend or husband – no matter how appetizing the situation might seem – because she has manners and morals. A friend is the husband who is not inordinately obsessed with navigating the euphoria-inducing vestibules of other women!
Perhaps we can all start a discussion about what our friends have meant to us – good or bad – over the years, and together we can learn to avoid the obvious pitfalls in the future.
The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master's degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at [email protected]