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Friendship: Together We Can Do So Much

Devora Zheutlin MA, CAS

“A group exists when two or more people think of themselves as ‘us.’ ” —Dr. David G. Myers

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

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Together We Can Do So Much

We know that people are social and need company and human interaction. We crave relationships and shrivel up from loneliness. But a wonderful and powerful question that has been raised is whether we are influenced by the presence of another person who is acting along with us. In other words, do we do more, perform more dynamically, and react more strongly when others are near?

The resounding answer is yes, we do. But that’s where the fascinating part begins. Sometimes the group’s influence makes us feel lost in a crowd and more uninhibited, bold, and free to misbehave. Think of times you may have felt fine doing something less than okay in a group, that you would have never done alone. Other times the group’s influence sweeps us along in generosity to others, spiritual awakening, and speedier performance. Imagine the power and “charge” of a tefillah uttered along with others at a large gathering such as a public asifah, that is more emotional than what one could have achieved alone. How do we understand this contradiction? Does being part of a group disrupt us and unleash bad behavior, or does it enhances us and bring out our best?

 

It’s Natural!

Here comes a very interesting answer. Being part of a group enhances whatever you naturally tend to do. Whatever behavior a person tends to, that behavior is more likely to occur when in the presence of others. The company of others helps us do the things that are simple to us and likely. If we are naturally a little rough around the edges, the group may free us to act inappropriately. If, however, our core is composed of fine traits, then our spirits soar in a group and we are more likely to be enhanced and do better when surrounded by others.

Racheli had a sweet plan in mind but was vacillating. She thought it might be great to have a welcoming committee for girls entering 9th grade and coming to their Back-to-School summer evening for the first time. Although she liked the idea, she felt a little hesitant as she started mingling at the event alone. She greeted the newcomers a bit shyly, and then moved on. But when six of her fellow classmates arrived and joined her, that really energized her. The girls eagerly swept through the room, greeting, smiling, and disarming the freshies.

Here we see, up close, the power of the group and its capacity. In addition, there are some specific group behaviors that we might want to examine more closely. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 724)

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