"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."- Oscar Wilde
Every Thanksgiving, when I try to reflect on things I am most grateful for, I find myself growing more and more appreciative of friendships. As much as I love reading, listening to music, seeing a play, I have always found that the depth of my understanding of these experiences is best revealed in an honest conversation with a friend. I treasure being defeated in a friendly debate almost more than finding a resonance with my ideas, because defeats are tremendously illuminating.
My political views, cultural preferences and artistic sensibilities have moved from naive clarity of youth to fluid and multilayered considerations of the middle age largely thanks to the generosity of friends willing to share what was in their hearts and minds without holding back. In the last 25 years friendships helped me clarify the difference between being connected to a particular culture or tradition and being driven by its values, as well as the difference between being defined by one's actions and one's profession. I have been continuously humbled by the endless creativity of people's problem solving and ability to cooperate for a greater good rising above our biological drives. Given how little formal education in this world is free from political, religious or tribal agenda, sincere friendships may be our best hope for survival.