Thanksgiving last year, I sent many good friends a letter of Thanks & Gratitude, and invited them to contribute articles to my  Friendshipology website <https://friendshipology.net>. Many schoolmates responded and several wrote intimate thoughts. 

One classmate wrote:

I’ll consider your invitation to write something for your Friendship website, but frankly it may not promote friendship. I had one close friend you would know who was so rapid and full of hate for Trump, he could not tolerate my conservative ideas. Others experienced the same relationship. We no longer communicate. I fear the contentious political differences will forever taint friendships and even families. Sad.

When I worked on a 20,000 acre horse and cattle ranch in desolate eastern Montana, it was truly an awakening. My east coast upbringing was very different in values character and ethics. My Montana hosts and their ranching friends find so much more in life than people in the stale east They have a remarkable inborn wisdom as well as an honest, stable sense of values” I stand by my thinking to this day and feel this difference is the heart of our current day thinking politically.

You truly make our day every year when you remember OLD friends. Thank you so much.”  I will not attend our reunion. I prefer to leave our alma mater with special memories and not see the destruction of all those things we cherished. Keep the annual greeting alive !!! “

I wrote back :

You must write this story for my website. There is a lesson to be learned. I hope you will have ideas on how and when to agree or disagree or agree to disagree..

As an architect, I think of SPACE all the time. Give some Space and bring in Light to Create Joy. Yes, I know you will write well because it will be heart-felt !

After another letter from this classmate, I replied:

I really admire and appreciate your honest, direct, and trust-worthy kind of friendship. Even though I share much of the liberal philosophy about gender and racial equality etc., I am weary about the frequent liberal elitist conceit. A year or so ago, a Chinese friend brought a delegation of 20+ students from Shanghai’s FuDan Univesity’s School of Business to the S.F. Bay Area to visit Stanford, Apple, and Facebook etc.. He asked me to give a talk to his students on one of their only free afternoons. I hesitated but finally agreed to take up the challenge. I wondered how I could impress them after they had just met and visited the crown jewels of Silicon Valley, and what could I really say that could be of permanent value to their aspiring futures.

Having come from Shanghai, I knew well that the Shanghai people are generally very proud and ambitious and FuDan School of Business is the HBS or SBS of China. I decided to talk about Arrogance of the Brilliant, Privileged, Elitists.  I told them to remember two different kinds of arrogance : The Self-first Flaunting Bullying type as exhibited by President Donald Trump, and the Snotty Hypocritical type revealed by Hillary Clinton as she called those who didn’t follow her ” A Basket full of Deplorables”. I also told them about a few of my own Family Members who looked down at those who did not have a good education and called all the poor people “Dirty Thieves”.

I am hoping to learn from this Friendshipology Initiative on how people can better relate to each other especially cross-culturally. So far I have 80+essays shining light on various aspects of friendship. Unfortunately most stories are about the bright cheerful experiences and there are not many awkward situations where we really need to focus and learn from. 

I think we can learn something valuable from you, because I feel that you also feel that we all need to know better. If you don’t mind, I like to quote  you in a future article. I won’t reveal your name. Indeed, I like to hear more about your inner thoughts and feelings.

So far, I have learned that people will always have different points of views. It really is better to learn how to cultivate common goodness in oneself and others and enthusiastically cooperate and collaborate on common challenges like this Covid-19 pandemic.  US-China relations is at a very low point today. I like very much to revert that ! 

Cheers with warm affection always,

Classmate wrote:

I will offer more comments in time, but want you to see, first hand, what the Cowboy Culture is all about. The National Rodeo Finals is currently on TV. It is a ten day Super Bowl with the top cowboys competing for top national honors in about 10 events. You can view it (about 3 hrs) starting at 4 western on RFD our channel 74 called the “cowboy channel”. Give it a shot. No politics. All America

I hope you will appreciate the solid character of the participants. These kids put their faith in God, country and their way of life. A world champion may throw his hat in the air, but only after dropping to one knee and thanking God for his success. This is a far cry from our million dollar athletes who jive in the end zone in self praise.

I wrote again:

Politics is a dangerous topic for conversation, indeed. It can make people get furious at each other. When I decided to do my research on Cross-cultural Friendship, I volunteered at the English in Action Program at Stanford University’s International Students Center.

Before, they paired me with a Japanese Post Doc to practice English once a week, I was cautioned seriously to avoid three topics in our conversation in the beginning : Politics, Religion, and Sex.

I did that for the first month but opened up gradually afterwards. Dr. Junichi Matsubara  and I conversed regularly for almost three years, on almost all topics, and we became really really good friends. 

Just before he departed for his home, Kyoto, Japan, his wife who was in the U.S. with him, gave birth to a baby boy. It took them weeks to select a name good for the boy’s future. Indeed, after choosing a Japanese name, they also picked an English name. Guess what, they decided to call their little baby boy , ” Billy”.   Wow that was the best reward I had ever received in my whole life.

Don’t forget : Junichi is from Japan and I am from China originally.

Yes, I’ve learned a bit more from the RFD website as it presents many positive aspects about the Cowboy culture which I now begin to understand and admire. Just for your amusement, here is a Chinese Western video which shows a lot of anger and cruelty, but that’s what entertains people ( myself included ), I am afraid.

Please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC6H40x0mAQ .

Latest from Classmate:

I appreciate your passion for friendship and I treasure your annual reaching out to classmates. It is unique and meaningful. Thank you.

Again, I am now spending most of my waking hours supporting organizations and causes which I feel are fighting for me and the survival of the country we both love and respect —- and I served in the navy to protect. I look forward to your annual greeting. You have achieved your goal of maintaining a friendship !!!!