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Living Well

Living Well: What Is A Friend?

by James Mclaughlin

A friend is a person who knows all about you, but likes you anyway.

In 88 years I haven’t found a better meaning for the word “friend.” I have long-lasting friends, understanding friends, helpful friends, very good friends who are not afraid to disagree with me or question my attitude.
To make a friend isn’t quite right.  You make a cake, or a house, or a car. To “make means putting things together. Assembling separate pieces of things to become something new. I have never “constructed” a friend. Friends are people, not things.
Johnny and I were friends. We worked together, discussed all sorts of things at lunch, didn’t always agree. Lots of lunches, lots of discussions. During one lunch, arguing over I don’t know what, he backed me into a corner.
Rather than agree with his side, I would hide behind, “up to a point.” One time, Johnny said, “Jim, you say that too often. Either it’s yes or it’s no.”  When Ann and I were getting married, Johnny, my good friend, was an usher.
When our kids were starting school, one piece of advice for them was: Make friends. What we should have encouraged them to do was: Find a friend. Find someone you like, you are comfortable with, and he can do the same with you. Too many, today, have lost the desire to be friendly, to become (not make) friends. Now it seems tribalism is taking over. If you don’t agree with me, you are wrong (and I don’t like it, or you.)  
In the 1930s and 1940s, we had more block parties than riots. We didn’t have nationwide homelessness. We didn’t have steel gates pulled down over store fronts. We are becoming a me nation. Technology is wonderful, but it has no conscience. It can make things better, but at what cost? Amazon wants to deliver your purchase by drones. How many jobs will that cause to disappear? Want to make America great again?
Get on a cooperation bus. Ride past all the flashing me stops. Get off on the one marked us!

James McLaughlin is 88 years old and currently a part-time student at St. Thomas Aquinas College. A retired Linotype operator of forty years, he started a hot metal type shop on Railroad Avenue in Pearl River–STB Graphics –a business that closed in 1978.  Jim lives in Thorpe Village in Sparkill, is self-sufficient and in good health.

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