What is a friendship? The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”
Friendship necessitates an inquiring mind; for others and for yourself. This does not involve sticking our nose into someone else’s business or forcing our opinions on others.
It means the creative use of the imagination, not the destructive abuse of it. It is the eye of a healthy self-image, the soul of friendship. It takes inspired imagination to help others.
Rich imagination is not an exclusive gift of geniuses. It is potentially in all of us. If, daily, you long to improve yourself, to use your creative powers, you will seek enriching ideas in your mind; and you will find them. Perhaps you will share them in friendship.
“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.” ~ Elie Wiesel
Each day resolve, in your imagination, to be a good friend. What can you do for those who you like? What can you say to communicate your brotherly feeling? Put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes; what consideration would he appreciate? “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” ~ Confucius
The practice of friendship is the practice of eloquence; this eloquence needs no words since it implies an understanding of your fellow-man. There is eloquence in the performance of a friendly act, done impulsively, without thought of a reward. There is eloquence in a brotherly fellow-feeling, a fellow-feeling of identification, of sharing the human condition. There is eloquence in meeting others halfway, perhaps more than halfway.
“Friendship is like a garden. It is beautiful when it is watered and tended to with love, care, hugs, tears and cheers, but it will be withered up and die if left untouched.”
The ability to practice friendship does not belong to a few; it belongs to all of us, if we but make it one of our daily goals. Friendship requires the highest degree of courage. This is not often recognized, but it is nonetheless true. A good friend must be a courageous person.
We consider a man courageous when he risks his life cutting his way through snake or crocodile infested forests. We consider courageous the fireman who plunges through smoke to save a child’s life or the policeman who pursues a dangerous, armed criminal.
These are acts of bravery; some are also actions for the benefit of the community. These people are heroes of our civilization, protectors of civilized life, who rise up in times of crisis.
Yet courageous does not require an apparent crisis. One can be brave during the ordinary twenty-four hour day with no blatant dangers, but with variety of small dangers lurking behind the minutes. It takes real courage to attain the stature of friend to your brothers and sisters on earth. You show courage when you meet life every day with self-control. You do not attack a man for the colour of his skin, the size of his noise, his values and beliefs, or if he is more convincing in an argument than you are. You fight off, conceit, malice, and disdain; you refuse to find fault with others to support your own sense of inadequacy. “We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us, and wealth classified us”
Friendship means we must courageously move toward our fellow-men, not retreat from them as in passive living. Friendship forbids indifference toward others. It means that we stand up and fight not only for our beliefs but the beliefs of others. Only a brave can enter into such demanding relationship as these. “A true friend lightens freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.” ~ William Penn
Let your energy flow away from yourself to others less fortunate, helping them willingly with your compassionate hands. Have the courage to keep moving toward life, toward people, in spite of problems, frustrations, defeats. Be strong enough to give to others in a spirit of equality. Be determined enough so that you can overcome your negative feelings; if you can’t, you will not be a friend to yourself or to others. Friendship is a reaffirmation of the life instincts; it is the personification of fighting life force.
Friendship is an exciting voyage of discovery of the good in yourself and in others. It is a daily search that never ends, a search for giving in yourself and in others; a full-time job.
“Shine your soul with the same egoless humility as the rainbow and no matter where you go in this world or the next, love will find you, attend you, and bless you.” ~ Aberjhani