The essence of friendshiphow can people use the power of friendship to cross boundaries of race, religion, and culture?
One of my best friends is a Serbian. She's not Eastern Orthodox like many Serbs are, but she did used to be Christian. Now, she's atheist and came out of the closet a few years after we met. She was so afraid of what I would think of her that she blocked me from her life. For a couple of years there was nothing but silence and she wouldn't even meet me when I visited Europe again. Finally, I wrote an email to her asking to be friends because I didn't care what she believed in, all I cared about was knowing about what was going on in her life, her triumphs and successes, and I promised that I'd never judge her. We are friends again not only because of that, but because she had to overcome her judgments of me, too. Agreeing to disagree and love beyond differences is awesome! We just don't talk about those things that we disagree on :). Friendship is powerful and can break down boundaries of religion and race.
When you speak of "crossing boundaries" of race, religion, and culture, it almost sounds like you are speaking of groups of people (or entire countries) accomplishing this. But like post 4 suggests, "friendship" accomplishes this one person at a time. On a more global scale, I often wonder how countries might have different methods of achieving peace if leaders had close personal relationships with people who might otherwise be considered "enemies." Friendship tends to cause humans to think about how the other person feels first, rather than selfishly attending to our own needs only. Imagine the possibilities for peace if everyone started considering the needs of others first...
Friendship, in order to truly be friendship, entails caring about each other enough to be willing to accept differences between yourselves as being just that - differences. They aren't good or bad, right or wrong - they are simply ways in which the two of you are different. Once you agree to overlook the areas in which you disagree, you can focus on the shared areas of interest and respect and enjoyment.
Friendships are usually built on the kinds of interests- sports, school, hobbies, etc. that transcend race, religion, and the other things that tend to divide people. That said, many people are still hesistant to reach out to people across these divides. As Post #4 wisely points out, you can only do this one person at a time, and you can certainly only do it for reasons that are authentic.
At some points in human history (such as the Renaissance) friendship has been, in some ways, at least as important as family connections. One gets to choose one's friends, but this of course is not true of one's family. Friendships on both the personal level and the national level can be among the most valuable relationships of all.
When you value others for who they are, you aren't as concerned by differences in race, religion, and culture. It also helps others overcome any barriers they have to getting to know people who are different themselves because someone who is like them in bringing someone with a different background to their group of friends.
You can only do this one person at a time, right? All you can do is to be friends with people who have the qualities you like, rather than those who are from the same groups as you are. You can hope that this sets an example, though, so that other people will notice what you are doing and perhaps will emulate you.
Friendships are usually more about what you have in common than your differences. For example, even if your friend is very different from you, there is probably a common interest that you both have than is stronger than your differences.