English guys, along with a few other nationalities, have a strange custom of calling each other “mates”. “Hi mate”. “Cheers mate”. “Yes mate”. To the average foreigner who thinks they know English the expression often comes and remains as a shock! “Mates” are, for the rest of us, either two matching objects or a married couple. The idea of two friends, casual or long term, calling each other by this term is confusing to say the least.
During my months in England, I have come to treasure the term. I find it captures a lot of the English spirit, reflecting solidarity in our shared human experience. The expression affirms a cultural value that we are all equal, facing similar odds, and are will to look out for each other in good times and bad. In reality, I know the term is one used more often out of habit and convenience, rather than a statement of personal friendship and loyalty between two men.
In my own journey I continue to rediscover the blunt truth that we all face extraordinary odds each day, every man, women, and child struggles to survive and live, and we share a core type of equality that defies understanding. “Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners.” (Romans 3.9) In too many ways that one feels comfortable admitting; each of us are mates to the other. What makes us have true value is the same. What limits our potential ultimately is the same. The only difference comes in how with deal with a few tactical years in the present and near future.
All of this leaves us with a daily challenge. Do I understand my condition and shared walk or am I going to continue struggling to do it on my own? Do I understand the true picture of my current condition? Is the helping hand reaching out to you and I of interest? Can I trust my mates to help in my walk?
Take care mate.