When was the last time you made a new friend? Why not go out of your way to make one today, on the U.N.’s International Day of Friendship?
When we make friends, we generate the glue that holds the world together. We connect our hearts to one another, and we extend our souls toward our common humanity.
The Baha’i teachings praise friendship and encourage its spread around the globe. In fact, the Baha’i teachings offer us a six-sentence formula for friendship, a recipe for making mutual connections and sustaining them:
Be thou a summoner to love, and be thou kind to all the human race. Love thou the children of men and share in their sorrows. Be thou of those who foster peace. Offer thy friendship, be worthy of trust. Be thou a balm to every sore, be thou a medicine for every ill. Bind thou the souls together. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 26.
Let’s see if we can unpack the first piece of profound advice in those six sentences and better understand its intent. Here’s a simplified list:
- be a summoner to love
- be kind to the entire human race
- love all and share in their sorrows
- be a peacemaker
- offer your friendship
- be trustworthy
- be a balm to the sore places
- heal every ill
- bind the souls together
Essentially, this seemingly simple quote from the Baha’i teachings recommends nine steps to make true and lasting friends. If you follow this advice, people will be drawn to you, and you’ll generate new friends wherever you go.
But what does “Be thou a summoner to love” mean?
To summon someone, Webster’s Dictionary says, means “to call together, to send for, or to rouse.” The Baha’i teachings say that the prophets, the divine manifestations who founded the world’s great Faiths, acted according to that exact definition, as summoners to love:
The divine Manifestations since the day of Adam have striven to unite humanity so that all may be accounted as one soul. The function and purpose of a shepherd is to gather and not disperse his flock. The Prophets of God have been divine Shepherds of humanity. They have established a bond of love and unity among mankind, made scattered peoples one nation and wandering tribes a mighty kingdom. They have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace. All these holy, divine Manifestations are one. They have served one God, promulgated the same truth, founded the same institutions and reflected the same light. Their appearances have been successive and correlated; each One has announced and extolled the One Who was to follow, and all laid the foundation of reality. They summoned and invited the people to love and made the human world a mirror of the Word of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 151.
In the same way, our sincere friendships summon us to love—to our higher, better selves. Our true friends recognize the best in us, and encourage us to let that light shine. In the same way, the prophets of God call us to love one another, and to see the most noble, spiritual qualities on one another.
That’s what it will take to build a sense of human solidarity and unity: the spirit of true friendship.
The U.N.’s Friendship Day statement says:
Through friendship—by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust—we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good.
On Friendship Day, we can all recommit to that happy task by extending the spirit of true friendship to all people.