Love and Friendship in the face of Hate- A FleFi Christmas Address

Luke 6:35-38 New International Version (NIV)
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The year 2018 can best be summed up as the following: “In the face of hate, greed and power, one cannot afford to live it alone. One needs to reach out to those who deserve the power of friendship and love because of actions that warrant it.”
A few months back, I had written a piece on the power of forgiveness based on some personal experiences that were encountered which led to my belief that not everything is as bad as we have been seeing lately. That piece you can read here.

When Donald Trump took over as President on 20th January, 2017, it marked the beginning of the era of self-righteousness, the era where in order to become successful, one has to become a total asshole and think selfishly. The more narccist you are, the more people will follow you and engage in acts of hatred because according to you, it is ok. More bomb threats, more shootings, more degradations both in person as well as in the social media, more scrutiny in the face of political ideals and views, and more discriminations and in some cases, rounding people up to be transported to detention camps. These were the ingredients of the American Reich, taking every page, every sentence and every word out of another book entitled “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler. Bomb threats against news networks like CNN were never seen 10 years ago but exist today. Alienating people because of different views like we have now, were nonexistent five years ago. And infoprying, bootleg conversations to share the problems the country has was as foreign a word in 2016, as it was “fake news.”
It made me wonder if even the concept of a true friend exist, especially as we see more people who leave their loved ones behind to either pursue their own interests that will bound to fail in the end or follow the leader who will bring them to failure.
With that question, I can answer that one with a resounding yes. While the true meaning of a friend has changed over time, it does have some characteristics that bring people together in the face of hatred and selfishness that we are seeing on an hourly basis. One doesn’t need a political affiliation, religious background, materialistic items, fame and even clothing worn in order to be a friend. Interests have little value. And just because a person is on facebook and in your network doesn’t necessarily mean that person is your friend. A true friend would do the following for you:
1. Respect your rights and opinions by listening and not prying into your own affairs
2. Share stories and experiences with you and have some constructive conversations that last for hours on end, and enjoying it in the end
3. Offering a hand for help in finding peace and bringing stability in a person’s life, no matter how big or small the situation is
4. Work together for a common cause, putting aside differences, pasts that are worth forgetting, and other clichés that can potentially be negative
5. Apologize for all wrong-doing and forgive the other.
6. In the event of a long absence, pick up where it was left off and lastly,
7. When given the chance, let the friendship grow and be stronger.

Many of us do not understand why the US is isolating its friends and neighbors, let alone why people follow Trump and his policies, even though we’re seeing the same happen in places like Turkey, Poland and Brazil. It is just as logical as people in Germany, France and other countries trying to follow the far-right politicians who are corrupt and have no basis to stand on. However, political and religious affiliations are just as meaningless in a friendship as incidents, such as affairs, divorces, people losing their jobs (and sometimes their homes), and other miniscule incidents. What is important is having some common values and ways to make things better.

The concept of Global Ethics, written and preached by theologist Hans Küng, explains this concept in detail, showing the reader that people of different backgrounds in religion, politics, socio-economics, and other forms of status quo do not play a role in cooperating to solve problems on a global scale.
When looking at the current situation, we seem to have veered away from this concept when we need it the most. The environment is falling apart, people are emigrating away from areas no longer arable, many forms of flora and fauna are disappearing from the landscape and we ignore the problem as if they are non-existent.

We just don’t get it!
We just don’t get the fact that our own actions are destroying everything that holds dearly to our heart.
We just don’t get the fact that we are destroying families, relationships and even friends that way.
We just don’t get it!

Yet when looking back at 2018, if there is one lesson to learn from two years of Trump, it is this: there is a way to turn it around. There is a way to reach out for forgiveness and help. There is a way to mend ties with the friends you want to keep. There is a way to start again and make it right.
There is hope in the face of hate, and we’re starting to see this bit by bit.
We have developed a sense of conscious where the scourge of greed, materialism and singling out people needs to stop and we need to start thinking about the people that matter the most. We need to think about the other guy instead of ourselves. If we did harm to the other guy, we reach out to help and for forgiveness. After all, we may learn from the other guy and forge a friendship from this. It doesn’t start at the top in our governments; it starts at the very bottom of the food chain, meaning ourselves.
I had three different experiences this year that support this argument: 1. A bully from high school stepped forward to apologize for his actions, even though it was 25 years ago. 2. A former colleague from college who reached out to me for her actions after a fallout that occurred three years ago. And 3. Two friends from college reunited with my wife and me after a fallout from eight years ago over an incident that sparked a huge argument and then a cessation of communication. In all three instances, the three parties acknowledged that their actions were unjust, and in all three instances they found that by cutting off ties without listening and even finding a solution was more harmful than the conflict themselves. The beauty behind all three incidents was that we found a way to forgive each other and have a long, constructive and very pleasing conversation, one of which lasted into the wee hours of the morning. From each one I learned that we had more in common than we thought before and that we could (re-)forge a friendship if we wanted to. In two of the three cases it was easy, in the other one that one will take a while to do. But in the end we realized that we cannot know the person just by the cover and actions, but by learning his/her past for there is good in every aspect, each one useful for a friendship, one that is needed in times like this.
This can only happen when we ignore those who instill hate and lies, even our leaders, like Trump, Erdogan and others who practice hate and discrimination, and embrace the love of others regardless of background. A country is not a country without a network of friends and family that runs it democratically and in a way that other friends and family can benefit from it. And even in times of conflict, we still find ways to keep our common values in tact and put aside our differences. In times like these, we cannot afford to have our own personal vendettas get in the way of progressivism. Otherwise we will not have much of a planet to live on. What we saw in the Congressional elections in 2018 or in my three examples is a start. We have a lot to do to put an end to this carnage and tackle the issues that we have.

What we need are three Cs that are useful, even if they take time:
Courage- Each of us has the ability to say STOP!
Chance- Each of us deserve a chance to do something for the good of the other.
Consistency- Each of us need to be persistent and learn that what we put in will be received in the end.
And for a friendship, we need this chance to let it grow. Only then will our planet have a chance to grow again.

The Flensburg Files and sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to wish you and yours the very best this holiday season. Merry Christmas, and a great start into 2019. 🙂

Some additional Christmas market items will be coming to round off a rather busy but exciting 2018 Christmas Market Tour and Tidbits! But for now, time to celebrate with family and friends, just like you should as well! ❤

FlFi Christmas 2018