Why Americans are spending less time with friends

Guests

Dr. Marisa Franco, psychologist and friendship expert. Author of Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends. (@DrMarisaGFranco)

Daniel Cox, director of the Survey Center on American Life. Research fellow in polling and public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). (@dcoxpolls)

“Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.”

Ruhiyyih Yuille is teaching the above verse to a diverse group of Baha'i community.

A Talk by Abdu’l-Baha in appreciation of the opportunity of friendship Nov 18,1912 in His historic visit to America

I offer thanks to God for this meeting with you. From the outer standpoint such meetings are inconceivable, for we are orientals whereas you are occidentals. Between us there is no patriotic, linguistic, racial, commercial nor political relation. No worldly bond nor connection of any kind exists between us that would justify such a gathering as this. The love of God has brought us together, and this is the best of means and motive. Every other bond of friendship is limited in effectiveness, but fellowship based upon the love of God is unlimited, everlasting, divine and radiant. Therefore, we must be thankful to God for uniting us in love and agreement, praise Him for creating such affinity between us that those from the faraway Orient may associate with the beloved ones of the West in the utmost fragrance.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá from a talk at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank K. Moxey on November 18, 1912 from notes by Esther Foster cited in The Promulgation of Universal Peace. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust. 1982 second edition. p.470).

You must do your best to increase love among the friends that really and sincerely the friends may all love one another so that Faith in the Kingdom may give forth good results, because life in this world depends upon love. The illumination of the world depends upon love, The splendour of God depends upon love. Tranquility of the heart and soul both depend upon love. Anything beside that is personified imagination.

Abdu’l-Bahá

The following quote was written by Shoghi Effendi after he “read with the keenest interest and appreciation a copy of that splendid document formulated by the National Committee on inter-racial amity and addressed to all the Spiritual Assemblies throughout the United States and Canada. This moving appeal, so admirable in its conception, so sound and sober in its language, has struck a responsive chord in my heart. Sent forth at a highly opportune moment in the evolution of our sacred Faith, it has served as a potent reminder of these challenging issues which still confront in a peculiar manner the American believers.” It is possible that the document was the compilation of Bahá’í teachings on the subject of race amity, edited by Louis G. Gregory and Mariam Haney, and published by the Committee in 1928. 

In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. Let them rather, as equal co-sharers in the spiritual benefits conferred upon them by Bahá’u’lláh, arise and, with the aid and counsel of their local and national representatives, supplement these official functions with those opportunities which only a close and intimate social intercourse can adequately provide. In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their playgrounds, and club-rooms, in short under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear, the community of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh should satisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are the living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days. If we relax in our purpose, if we falter in our faith, if we neglect the varied opportunities given us from time to time by an all-wise and 131 gracious Master, we are not merely failing in what is our most vital and conspicuous obligation, but are thereby insensibly retarding the flow of those quickening energies which can alone insure the vigorous and speedy development of God’s struggling Faith.

(Shoghi Effendi. “Inter-racial Amity” cited in 1974 Edition. Bahá’í Administration. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust. p.196)

May ye be salutary water for the thirsty, an evidence of guidance for the seeker, protection and support for the helpless, a shelter and home for the wanderers, the treasury of the Kingdom for the poor; the source of hope and happiness for the disappointed; the remedy of the heart and soul for the ailing. May you manifest the utmost of kindness to the human race; to weep with him who mourneth and to laugh with him who rejoiceth; sympathizing with the helpless; in communion with the wanderer; a friend to the friend and foe.

Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 1, p. 9.

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.

A story about Abd’ul-Baha after being released from 40 years of imprisonment in Akka, Palestine and was able to receive pilgrims from different parts of the world. 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the pilgrims that on Sunday morning He would meet them on Mount Carmel, under the shade of the trees where Bahá’u’lláh had sat and rested. But one of the pilgrims fell ill, and the Master went to visit her on that Sunday. She recounts what happened on that day:

On Sunday morning we awakened with the joy and hope of the meeting on Mount Carmel. The Master arrived quite early and after looking at me, touching my head and counting my pulse, still holding my hand, He said to the believers present, “There will be no meeting on Mount Carmel today…We could not go and leave one of the beloved of God alone and sick. We could none of us be happy unless all the beloved were happy.” We were astonished. That anything so important as this meeting in that blessed spot should be cancelled because one person was ill and could not go seemed incredible. It was so contrary to all ordinary habits of thought and action, so different from the life of the world where daily events and material circumstances are supreme in importance that it gave us a genuine shock of surprise, and in that shock the foundations of the old order began to totter and fall. The Master’s words had opened wide the door of God’s Kingdom and given us a vision of that infinite world whose only law is love.

This was but one of many times that we saw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá place above every other consideration the love and kindness, the sympathy and compassion due to every soul. Indeed, as we look back upon that blessed time spent in His presence, we understand that the object of our pilgrimage was to learn for the first time on earth what love is, to witness its light in every face, to feel its burning heat in every heart, and to become ourselves enkindled with this divine flame from the Sun of Truth, the Essence of whose being is love. So, on that Sunday morning He sat with us for a while and we thought no more of the meeting on Mount Carmel, for in the joy and infinite rest of His presence all else was swallowed up.

Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 26.

A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 20 years, specializes in using the Bahá’í Teachings to identify theories, techniques, and approaches that produce the best results for her clients. She is the founder and executive director of the Center for Global Integrated Education, a non-profit Bahá’í-inspired educational organization.

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