Monday, January 22, 2007

Why Make Friends When Things Are Going Well?

"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."
- John F. Kennedy

The old song Manana (Spanish word with ~ over the first n) comes to mind. Why fix the roof on such a sunny day? Kennedy's reference was to that song.

Why fix the roof indeed when the rain is not pouring in on top of us? In other words, why fuss about problems with relatives, friends, neighbours (be they personal or at the state level) when all is going well otherwise?

The answer of course is that the midst of a crisis is not the time to worry about patching up relationships. We need to do repairs when it's possible to do them with less risk than during a crisis.

The present situation with the US is an excellent example. Its friends are those countries with whom the US has courted good relationships over the past decade or more. Its enemies are those it has insulted or viewed with suspicion (if it gave them any attention at all) over the same period. In time of war, the US could not count on any non-friends to join it in its invasion of Iraq.

The recent US friendly relationship with India follows many years of courtship during the Clinton years. The US has trade to offer to India today, but it offered respect during the Clinton years. The years of respect led to the new trade relationship. Respect built trust.

When we have a personal crisis, such as a crisis between two friends, it's hard to patch things up on the spot. With the passage of time, it may be easier, but we then would have moved on to focus on other matters and other people. Yet that smoother time would be the ideal time to rekindle the friendship because there would be no conflict involved.

Failure to do that can mean a dwindling number of friends, whether they be friendly people or friendly nations.

The best time to make friends and to re-empower old ones is when things are going well for us.
But don't depend on the media to tell us when times are good. For the media, there is no such thing as a good time. Every period is always worse than previous ones.

Assess your own good times and act on them to build while you have the time and ability.
Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show the difference between real life and what the media report.
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