What’s in a name?

Friendship Force

by Wayne Smith, Former President, The Friendship Force International

Periodically I receive inquiries from our members regarding the name of our organization. In particular, they ask about the use of two words that, in the English language, are not usually associated with each other: the universally acceptable and pleasing concept of friendship with the more aggressive word force. Since names are important to all of us, it is good to reflect on our name, The Friendship Force.

When The Friendship Force was established in 1977…

the name was carefully selected. Friendship, rather than peace, would be the primary concept. As individuals, we may not be able to create peace single-handedly, but we certainly know how to make friends. Furthermore, the underlying philosophy of our organization is that friendships across international barriers can be a powerful force in creating a more peaceful world. Hence our motto, “a world of friends is a world of peace.”

Think about it: the force of friendship.

Over the centuries, people of the world have dealt with their enemies by conquering or killing them – using what we call in English “armed forces.” We in The Friendship Force know that it is possible to deal with strangers and their differences – not through arms that shoot and kill, but through the arms of friends that embrace. Can we live in each other’s homes, share each other’s meals, play with each other’s children, and still be enemies?

Therefore, one reason for using force in our name is to convey the power of friendship. But there is another reason. Force, in English, is also used as a synonym for army. Here again the association is accurate. Don’t we want to be a friendship army . . . a friendship force? When thought of in these terms, we see that the use of the word force can help convey that what we do as individuals does not stand in isolation but is part of a worldwide movement … an army or force for friendship whose goal is to use friendship as the means to achieve a better world.

So you see, I like the second word in our name, force, almost as much as I do the first one, friendship. By combining the two, we are able to create the image, and the reality, of the power of friendship – the force of friendship – but only if we are willing to be part of a global army, or force for friendship.

We call it The Friendship Force.

Reprinted from the January/February, 1997 issue of Friendship magazine.