The Fruits of Friendship

By Jackson Henry

One of the most powerful forces in the world is not found at the point of guns or in the value money but rather in something we humans take occasionally for granted and that is friendship. Preachers tell us that friendship can move mountains, heal all wounds and nurture all souls. Religions around the world share a common mission of spreading friendship among man as the foundation for global peace and the human understanding. Without friendship being the cornerstone of international relations, no real economy can flourish. 

It is clear that friendship is one of the hallmarks of President Toribiong’s administration as he has said numerous times in public forums, “Palau is fortunate to have many friends”. Even former President Remengesau once said, “Palau is a friend to all and enemy to none”. President Toribiong’s message could not have been articulated better than the act of accepting the Uyghurs to Palau despite great pressures from the outside and even rattled nerves here at home. Truly, the President’s vision of cultivating friendship transcends above fears and confusion because making friends is a noble deed and a humanitarian gesture. Today, Palau’s economy has faired much better than our neighbors in the Pacific due primarily to the fruits of friendship that we have cultivated with our close friends like the USA, Japan and Taiwan.

Friendship does not mean being weak, submissive or easily swayed. It also does not mean that Palau have to compromise its principles or change its values just because we need to make friends quickly. Instead, true friendship means mutual exchange, influence and respect of one another’s differences.

Last week, Palau stepped up to the plate again to honor a tradition that is so natural to us. We sealed the bond of friendship between Palau and the Republic of China by hosting President Ma and his delegation in Palau. I was blessed to be part of this delegation. Its highlight for me was singing “Yesterday” and “Country Road” with Kostang Remeliik, President Toribiong and President Ma on that beautiful rock island. The songs brought back sweet memories and put a smile on President Ma’s face. At that moment, I knew that our friendship was more than mere contracts but genuine human understanding. Palau stands to reap many fruits of friendship that we have made with many countries, particularly Taiwan.

The good book teaches us to throw bread, even when others throw stones at us because friendship is the foundation of good foreign policies and quality economic development. Help spread good vibrations to all visitors, tourists and guests in Palau and make friends to everyone you meet. As President said eloquently, “friendship is not only words and documents, but action”. Perhaps we should put at sign at the Airai airport’s arrival area saying, “welcome to Palau, the friendliest country in the world”.

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