Social Question

phoebusg's avatar

Do you think you could be friends with absolutely everyone?

Asked by phoebusg (5230points) February 9th, 2010

I think it’s very important – and beneficial to be friends with absolutely everyone on planet earth.

But I’d like to hear what you think.
If you like, start the answer with what friendship means for you – and then as per heading, can you be friends with everyone and why?

Please keep this on topic if you can, humor is welcome so long you also try to provide your best answer.

Looking forward to some good answers :)

Question inspired by a fluther friend (lucille).

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47 Answers

CMaz's avatar

I thought I was?

They might not appreciate it but I am here.
We are our brothers keeper.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Today,I would say friendship is a test of my ability to control my impulse to beat the crap out of my beloved friend ;)

Val123's avatar

No, not everyone. There are some horrid people out there that I would never, ever want to know in real life, much less call a friend.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t want to be friends with absolutely everyone. At all. That would lead me either to suicide or homicide.

JLeslie's avatar

Nice to be congenial to everyone, be willing to help your fellow man if he needs help; but friends, that sounds idealistic and depends on your definition of “friend.”

BoBo1946's avatar

Oh, an utopian World, yes! But, in the real World, ain’t going to happen as it takes two people willing to be friends for that to happen. For example, if you were in Iraq, and tried to have a cup of coffee with a member of Taliban….good luck!

shadling21's avatar

No. It’s impossible. Even if you can stomach being friends with sociopaths and the most brutal criminals, I doubt that everyone in the world would want to befriend someone who does. Many, many opposing views would have to be reconciled before it was possible.

Cruiser's avatar

That would be insane…my definition of hell.

Trillian's avatar

Um…no. I can think of a few people right off the top of my head with whom I have no desire to be friends. Friendship requires a certain similarity of feelings or common ground. There are lots of people with whom, even with the best will in the world, I would have nothing to talk about. Talking is the first thing that friends do, is it not?
I can specifically remember making friends with two different girls when I was active duty. On both occasions we were in a classroom setting, made eye contact several times and you could tell that we felt the same way about whatever it was that caused us to roll our eyes around the room. After that, it was a simple matter of getting together and by talking, affirming our similar tastes and attitudes.
I can assure you for a fact that in one of those cases at least, the object of our mutual derision is a person with whom I would never speak, much less try to be friends with. I’d sooner put a stick in my eye.
That said, I see no reason to be adversarial to the point of unpleasantness. I just chose not to speak with certain people.

janbb's avatar

No I definitely can’t be friends with absolutely everyone – arrogant, self-centered and/or supremely stupid people get my goat. However, I can tolerate just about anyone if they don’t get in my face too much. I really don’t think in an ideal world we would need to “friend” everyone; we just need to apply ethical and courteous standards to our treatment of them.

Harp's avatar

I can have good will toward absolutely everyone, want peace and well-being for them. But there are people who seem to be, for now at least, locked into paths that can only lead to massive pain for themselves and others. When someone is on this kind of crash course, trying to enter into any kind of relationship with them can do more harm than good. It may be necessary to actively oppose some of them. Others may just need to be allowed to bottom out, and learn from their experiences. Maybe there’ll be room for a beneficial relationship down the road.

Val123's avatar

Hey Charlie Manson! Would you like to come to my house for a cuppa? Yo Hitler! Waz up!

CMaz's avatar

“locked into paths that can only lead to massive pain for themselves and others.”
No reason why you just cant say NO to a friend. :-)

GA @Harp.

Judi's avatar

I can be friendly, but I don’t like wasting my time forming relationships with “shallow.” I want to make the most of my friendships and I can’t be the best possible friend when I am spread to thin.

Shae's avatar

No being friends with everyone is a waste of time. Spend your time with those who bring joy and happiness into your life.

Christian95's avatar

one question ARE YOU NUTS?
do you really think that a fanatic musulman can ever be friend(real friend)with a fanatic christian?Or do you think that Bush Senior can ever be friend with an atheist or agnostic?Or do you think that some idiot senator will ever be friend with a hobo?Examples can go on and on
I can’t be sure but I think it will be very good if we all would be friends but this would men erasing the diversity that is essential for humankind.I can’t imagine a world where all are the same do you?

Shae's avatar

To me being friends with someone has nothing to do with how much they are like me. I have friends that are crazy different. My friends range from a homosexual professional psychic to a Christian Conservative police officer.

Steve_A's avatar

No, but I try not to burn bridges just because I may not like a certain person.

If anything I remain neutral or try to give it a chance, and if I see thats I may not get along with this person, as in a friend or whatever I let it be….but I am willing to hear everyone out at least once.

Maybe what you mean to say trying to be friends with everyone is good for earth, because least if you try you may get different points of view and appreciation for other people.

For me thats what I get out of it.

phoebusg's avatar

Fetch your reading glasses. I think this response is going to be a long one :)

First off, definitions. A friend is “One joined to another in mutual benevolence and intimacy” (OED). Yet friendship is “The state or relation of being a friend; association of persons as friends” (OED).
In other words, to be a friend to someone, is to seek their good, and be truthful to them (intimate), about you, him, your relation – the world. To be a friend to all, then would mean to love all – seek to do good to all our kinsmen. Aren’t all humans our kinsmen – thus friends (or could be?). But let’s step out of our human-centric bubble, isn’t all life – and common ancestors also our kin? Our bodies in many respects work the way with other organisms, and their predecessors, and their predecessors. Could we be friends with all life? I think most certainly.

Being a friend to others does not require others to be friends to you. You can have that position and stance regardless of mutuality. You can love unconditionally, can’t you? Then, you can also be a friend unconditionally. Some recognize that it could be ideal, for everyone on planet earth to be friends – we are after all traveling on the same planet – as a kin – earth beings. But if we all set the condition – I cannot be a friend to you, unless you are a friend to me first – we are faced with a catch 22 problem. Why should you require the other person to be a friend to you before you can be? Often the only boundary to peace and friendship is our self.

What do you do about the many out there that don’t share the a-priory friend-to-all stance?
Inform them, treat them as friends. We all seem to ignore where we are powerful, and where we are powerless. Everything is connected, action – reaction. Stance – counter stance. If you face someone in a friendly manner rather than fear (or other emotions, that will be reciprocated ) – then that’s what you may receive. If you are a friend to another, and he or she decided to be a friend to you – then you have a mutual friendship. But both must decide, it does not magically happen. All you can do is make your decision, broadcast it – and hope the ones you come across with will make the same.

What if – the person across me seeks my harm? It really depends on the harm. Is the person causing you severe – or threatening (with his action(s)) such harm? Or is this harm just psychological? There are situations in which I would definitely agree with the route of peaceful neutralization – make this person be unable to harm you until they change their stance. Try, to the best of your ability not to harm him or her while in the process of neutralization, but with a clear protection of yourself.
For example, I study a Japanese martial art that goes by the name Aikido (the way of harmony with the universe under the aikikai federation – original creator). We want to achieve harmony, eventually, but often rash action is required to reinstate harmony. This art teaches how to protect your opponent while assuming control, and making them unable to hurt you or anyone – but in the worse of situations (aka 10 people attacking you), it prepares you for rash action to ensure your survival. In life, you must do what you have to to keep on living, but do so with friendship in mind – intention for good.
There are many ways in which a person can ‘harm’ you psychologically, but for all of them you have to decide to view the events in a way in which allows them to be hurtful (if you have questions about that, feel free to ask).

How can you be friends with people that have proven that they care not for the good of others with their actions?
This would include manson, hitler, stalin, bush and many US gov administrations, the EU and their colonial past etc etc etc.
There are many who show such proof, not only the ones receiving more attention for one reason or another. But also the ones running the current propaganda machine. similar to Hitler’s establishment – a state of ignorance among the masses that allows one to harm others without being stopped. Usually through the abuse of cognitive/brain “disabilities” that all humans share – and of those we have many.
I think the person should be stopped from being able to harm others (and him/herself), but that does not mean one can’t be friends with him her. It is only to our benefit to be.
Another mental disability we have that relates here is seeing things and people from one side, light/dark. Once you see someone as part of the “light”, you tend to want to keep them as such, and vice versa. All the mentioned above, did good things helping others and bad things harming others. If you met Adolph Hitler when he was a young painter you may have even hung out with him and discussed his paintings. We all have so many dimensions in us.
In any case, given the person is now unable to harm others – why should we fuel his or her fears, hatred, ignorance (common causes for their actions in the first place), and why not turn them away – by example. First of all from our own behavior.
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces, for ourselves, not just those committing heinous crimes. That does not mean forgetfulness, provisions should be taken to make sure said person will be reasonably unable to do harm as observed.

I’ll try and close this for now with thoughts about power and powerlessness. In this universe, life, however you want to call it with your background and perception, we’re not all powerful. Considering the size of this world, we’re small – and mostly powerless. So how are the above criminals all powerful, were they solely responsible for what they did. Are you wholly responsible for everything that happened in your life – the way it happened in your life? No, you’re somewhat responsible – yes. I think it is an important distinction to keep us from doing the common mistake of the known FAE (fundamental attribution error). Ignoring situational factors to every thing, and attributing everything just and only to the person. Because it is easier, the world is a complex maze of cause-effects patterns – out of which we understand a very little fraction of a piece.
Blaming others assumes this, also thinking that someone is a savior – did and thought all by himself. We’re the making of our environment, biology and path/decisions in life. We have to be understanding, or try to understand why a person is the way they are instead of just blaming them and only them for it. If that act of blaming is to find the source, then dig deeper. But until you know more – and when you will, you may understand, we’re all on the same boat. You can see another person’s view, as they can see yours – if you try.
This is another continuum that needs to be balanced, because thinking you are completely powerless leads you to do nothing in this world. Nothing that can help change how things are to a better ideal – for the friend-to-all and benevolent virtue. We do have ‘powers’, everything you do has an effect, but you are only part of the equation. Make it a good part. Deciding a-priory to friend someone may help them change their view on the world, it will have an effect. Even if they’ve set themselves on a “path to destruction”, they are still walking that path because no one has shown them a better one.
As humans on earth, if we all focus on something we’re very powerful in relation to our planet. We can decide to end the environmental and social problems with one abrupt wave, if everyone was on the boat. Maybe the best thing you can do, is get another soul on the same boat. Maybe that’s all you can do, but do it. You’re not powerless. If you perceive yourself to be – you become. If you perceive boundaries where nature has set none, you are restricted – but only by yourself.

To me there are no groups, us and them, me and you, we’re all in this together. We’re all a kin, and as such it is only to our benefit to act kindly.

drClaw's avatar

Hell No. That sounds awful, just awful. Why would you ever want to be friends with someone that you just plain don’t like or is annoying to you? I would still try and help you even if I didn’t like you, I would be nice if you were nice to me, but if I don’t dig you then you are not my friend.

P.S. @phoebusg I would rather be crushed by a submarine than read everything you just posted.

phoebusg's avatar

@drClaw that’s too bad. You should try text-to-speech if reading is not your medium. Regardless, thanks for taking part ;)

In fact, try Dragon NaturallySpeaking – amazing software. You can make your own audiobooks.
http://www.scansoft.com/naturallyspeaking/

Val123's avatar

@drClaw Crushed by a submarine?? Hmmm. I’m thinking on how that could be accomplished!

susanc's avatar

I’d be willing, but I don’t have time.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Everyone? C’est impossible! Many days I’m not even friends with myself.

ucme's avatar

Mary Poppins as I live & breathe.

phoebusg's avatar

A way to get to know of all my other friends: http://www.6billionothers.org/index.php
Just remembered about this amazing project :)

gemiwing's avatar

Not without quite a lot of duct tape.

I’m not the most patient or understanding person. I’m working on it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’m afraid not. I can’t be friends with my ex-wife because she turned out to be the personification of pure evil. I promise to make an honest attempt at being friends with absolutely everyone else, though. We’ll see what happens.

susanc's avatar

Well, I guess I do have time, if I cut Bluefreedom’s ex-wife off the list.

lynfromnm's avatar

No, I could not be friends with everyone. Similar values are critical to a friendship, and so is the ability to be honest. Unless both of those conditions exist I don’t even want the friendship.

evandad's avatar

Everyone but you.

phoebusg's avatar

@Bluefreedom glad to hear that. About the ex-wife, give her time. Some people need more time than others.

phoebusg's avatar

@lynfromnm if you manage to be honest, yet deliver it well – it is likely others will model it and you can have both.
I’m hoping to one day instigate honesty as the norm, versus a fake world of facades that most of our society currently seems to be.

lynfromnm's avatar

@phoebusg I am not concerned with my own ability to be honest with a friend, but the friend’s ability to be honest with me. I know I will be honest because that is a quality I value hghly.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think the word ‘friend’ is way overused. I would like to be able to respect and care for everyone, and have the reverse. To me a friend is someone I have let into my life and they are nearly as family to me. They can come to my house any time of day or night and be welcomed, and help themselves to my food.

Factotum's avatar

@Christian95 Many people have friends of different religious beliefs – or no beliefs at all – and friends of different political persuasions despite being adamant about their own politics. Sometimes they opt to steer away from such topics in the name of friendship and sometimes they dive right in – also in the name of friendship.

Jeruba's avatar

No. Not even close, sorry. I simply haven’t the endurance. My list of friends is short.

Berserker's avatar

Of course not. I think human nature is built to skullfuck one’s fellow man. Seems to me that history not only repeats itself, but goes to show that distrust, strife, conflict and cruel ambition define what we are, rather than the general assumption that something’s gone wrong somewhere.

Individually I don’t think I’m any different, and often close my mind towards certain kindsa people, even if there seems to be no real reason to do it. It’s like an urge. I can’t help it. So I’m either a product of my times, an extremely vile person, or just like everyone else. Or all of it.
I think it’s impossible for anyone to be totally open minded. Being closed minded against certain things and people is, as sad as that is, a way to ascertain for oneself a sense of guidance, security and individual importance, which are all important elements when it comes to emotional health-as true as any of these things may be, or may not be. It’s the illusion that counts more than anything else.

That said, I don’t believe it’s impossible for utter tolerance to reign and for everyone to get along, but somehow, I seem to think that technological and societal advancement wouldn’t happen if we never perceived threats to eliminate or lands to take from other people. It’s built in our genes, ever since we went all cannibal on neanderthals, and I wonder if humans would be humans if we didn’t do what we do best; kick everyone out of their houses and get used to to the beds.

This is what I believe, but I don’t like my beliefs. Of course, I’m not blaming the entirety of mankind to justify my wicked ways and the seething darkness which is my view of generally everything and everyone, but friendship is also very complex and special, and I find it hard to imagine that one could experience this with every single person they randomly encountered.
Not that it has anything to do with anything, but friendship probably wouldn’t be friendship if it was just tolerance, and that, in reality, is as feasible as I see the concept of this question to ever really get.

Holden_Caulfield's avatar

There is a difference between friends and acquaintaces… I can acquaint with everyone… but I wouldn’t want to have them as a friend. Friendship requires trust. There are some people with whom I could never establish a level of trust.

LethalCupcake's avatar

No way could I possibly be friends with EVERYONE. I have lots of friends and I generally get along with most people…. But there are the people who I dislike as soon as I meet them… Just some examples: Arrogant Men, Liars, Ditzy Women. Anyway – I do my best (most of the time) to get along with even these people, regardless of wasting my time to be thier friend. But there are times that the Gloves most definatly come off. I think everyone needs confrontation (even if its tiny) every once in a while…. Builds Character lol

plethora's avatar

Absolutely not. Some people are assholes. Others are sociopathic assholes.

BoBo1946's avatar

@plethora ditto, ditto, and ditto!

mattbrowne's avatar

No. Being tolerant is a requirement.

plethora's avatar

@BoBo1946 Likewise….:) I could have said more.

phoebusg's avatar

@plethora + @BoBo1946 we all have assholes. And we’re all at risk of becoming just that. So would you not be friends with yourself either? Because you were an ass once?

So what does it mean to be an ass anyway, let’s bring out a definition from this label.
As far as the sociopath, I’m imagining you’re mostly concerned about his/her ability to harm you. So what if he/she couldn’t harm you? You would still not be-friend them even if they had a lot to teach you that you could benefit from?

Poser's avatar

I could never know everyone. I don’t even like a lot of the people I do know. So, statistically, no. I couldn’t be friends with absolutely everyone.

Could I be friends with absolutely anyone? Perhaps, given enough time. I have found myself overcoming my first negative impression of certain people. It’s rare, though. Usually my first impression is accurate.

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