Thoughts on Responsibility, Thoughs on Friendship

April 12, 2016

Recently I was invited to join a Sociology Day at my old university. As an old alumni I was going to join a discussion table for a day with my old teacher, someone I still hold dear as a spiritual guide in finding a meaning ethics in our current hectic times. In a spur of inspiration I wrote this little piece on responsibility and friendship  right down below.

A friend of mine wrote a little piece as well, he elaborated on friendship more. We accidentally did something we did not really do in a long time. We thought together and this is exactly where we want to be as the Middelburg group.

At the Sociology day we discussed the text a little further after my old teacher gave some feedback. I wrote the piece informed by a ssense of ethics that i developed inside the classroom together with some of my very special friends from back then.

You see, Sociology day in this setting is not about sociology as such. Our classes were essentially classes in ethics informed by readings from the Decolonial School of Thought, a group of Latin American philosophers that aim to imagine a new way of thinking from which we can start to abandon the capitalist ways we are pursuing right now. Google ‘Buen Vivir’ if i caught your attention with this, just a small example of what I am referring to.

We speak much about history and how things that happened in the past still influence society today, but even more than that we aim to figure out what our place is in the world, referred to as a ‘positionality’. We want to understand what our place in the world is when other people lead such different but somehow connected lives. Doing so we continue to discuss our ‘relationality’ to the world. Or how we engage in meaningful relations. See, we believe that the relations we have are the most important aspect of our lives and even if we do not always manage to stay readily in touch, we know that through our engagement we have made a little place for this thing we have there.

This introduction has become much longer than I initially inteded it to be, however, it is good stuff.

There is a plan to add a few pages with some theory to this blog. Some background reading through which those who are interesting can get a better understanding with what sort of a perspective the content of this blog is chosen to be shared, or produced.

So here we go:

In the end, whatever it is what are gonna talk about today, what I want is that you think about how you are going to make your life meaningful to yourself, to the people around you, your family and friends, to the people far away even if they don’t know it, to the people in the future and to the heroes that have struggled for the rights that you have today and for the people that still suffer from the wrongdoings from the past. I want you to think so and so that you will raise your conscience, that you will improve your character so you will become stronger, but not only to the benefit of yourself. I want you to become stronger for the benefit of the world, I want you to want to carry responsibility.

Because if there is one thing we need in this world its people who want to carry responsibility, people who understand that life is more than having a proper job and a family, people that understand that if we don’t struggle for justice, there are no jobs and no families.

People who are strong enough to look at the world and who see its ugliness and its beauty all at the same time, people who look at the complexity of the world and accept it for what it is, that there are no clearcut answers to the problems that exist, that understand that this doesn’t mean that we can only be happy if we look away. People that keep on loving despite all the ugliness hidden in all the turmoil, because they know that this is the only way they can stay happy in a meaningful way, meaningful to themselves and meaningful to others.

As a gift I want you to share with you how I found how friendship is the best motivator to keep carrying on. In a mutual understanding of what we are going for we find the strength to keep on standing up for justice and peace in a society that increasingly less dares to hold on to its dreams of freedom and equality and openness.

Storm is coming, therefore we need to firmly grasp hold of each other’s hands, so we can look each other in the eyes when the storm hits and still remember what we once dreamt and carry on.

My friend’s piece

I would like underlining what my friend Jurre said about friendship. In an ethical or emancipatory sense, friendship is about much more than how to spend your spare time. Having friends that you share values, convictions, dreams and aspirations with, is maybe the most important seed for action and transformation. Knowing that you are not alone, accommodated and supported, not only motivates but puts you in motion. True friendship allows you to be vulnerable, that is to be honest to others and to yourself, to be transparent. Real friends will hold you accountable, especially when your position is on of privilege. Friendship gives us the courage to act against all odds, to deal with fear and trauma. Friendship is a constant reminder of the need to be humble and attentive. Friendship gives us energy and joy. It is the retreat and safe space where we can relax and refresh.

On a different level, when we think about organizing, friendship can guarantee informal interaction. Growing up in an environment saturated by hierarchies, bureaucracies, protocol and many other forms of inherited implicit or explicit forms of formality (and coloniality), friendship can protect us from alienation and fragmentation. It alerts us in case we get lured into abstraction and (pre-)mediated forms of interaction that contradict our understanding.

 Friendship in this sense is more than teamwork (or group work). Friendship is care and compassion, the ground on which we stand, and by extension the ‘method’ through which we grow and open ourselves to differences and learn.

 Friendship is the heart of companionship.

With each other – through/ via each other – to each other.

(Miteinander, Durcheinander, Zueinander)

 Simply put, there is no transformation without action, no action without collectivity, and no collectivity without friendship and love. Thus, it is not DIY, but DIT (to it together).

 If you want to open spaces for engagement in your localities, build alternative structures for autonomy and self-determination, for hospitality and healing, don’t just team up and look for members, make friends and foster these friendships. 🙂

If you read this piece until the end, thank you!

If these words inspired you, resonated with you or made you feel better in anyway

….. Thank You!




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