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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Soapbox: Patch Adams...Friendship

Another of Dr. Patch Adams' 10 challenges involves friendship. It seemed a good topic choice for the week of Valentine's Day. He asks us:
7. How can we move to an economics of friendship?
I've never met Patch Adams, and I am not completely sure what he means by "economics of friendship." My desktop dictionary defines economics as "the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services." How many goods and services of friendship do we produce, distribute, and consume?  

My father once talked to me about friendship as a bank account. He was trying to teach me as a child that you must put into a friendship as well as take out. You will certainly lose many friends if all you do is consume the goods and services of friendship. But you are also likely to lose friends if you only produce and distribute friendship.  This was a surprise to me, but has turned out to be true as I grew up.  Part of keep a friendship healthy is the balance of give and take.  Let you friends help you sometimes, just as you help them.  

There is a lot of talk in the news about our economy of money.  One of the things I enjoy on the news are the people stories of those who have stepped up in these tight times to help others.  The people who are definitely producing and distributing the goods and services of friendship.  But we can all do it better I expect. Maybe we could keep track for a week of how many actual goods and services of friendship we each produce distribute and consume.  How many quick check-in phone calls, or an occasional long listen to someone,or a visit, or card, or kindess extended?  If the economics of friendship were monitored as much as the financial economics I suspect the strains of a rough stretch would be far far easier to bear.

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