Philosophy - Part 20 - A parody on friendship
Philosophy - Part 20 - A parody (well almost) on friendship - by P.K.Odendaal - September 2012
In my own life, friendship is paramount. I will offer many oxen on the altar of friendship in the hope that one of them will come alive again one day. I am still waiting. I regard friendship as sacred and precious and enriching, and a special relationship that will add lustre and comfort and richness to my life. Still my life is void of this. Why should this be?
I may be part of the problem and not of the solution, but where did I miss the opportunity? What could it have added to my life? The friend in need and the friend indeed proposition never showed up. I was always supposed to be the fool as the friend indeed, and never found a friend in my need.
I had to reconsider my position, especially after a friend of mine asked me what the bounds of friendship were. I started to wonder. Was there indeed such a concept as friendship or is it some unattainable utopia we hope for.
I have written many times on friendship and have never felt at ease with my superficial treatment of the disease - a disease with no good prognosis ever. The end is always a disillusion - much like the study of philosophy.
But where does it all go wrong and why?
There are many adages that warns us against friendship. One I clearly remember is that the friend of today is the enemy of tomorrow. Another is more fatalistic. It says : Do you want an enemy - then do someone a favour. I also remember a joke our previous minister of finance told us once. He said that he had a wheel puncture once at night, and he had no money to phone someone. He went to the grocer around the corner and asked the Greek whether he had a dollar to phone a friend to come and help him. The Greek told him that he would give him two dollars so that he could phone all his friends. I have come to realise that these are not jokes.
When I contemplate this, I come to the sad realisation that friendship does not and cannot exist. All that does exist is the host/parasite syndrome we all are subject to. There are really only two types of people in the world - hosts and parasites - and they stay more or less the same people during their lifetimes, although a host in one friendship can be a parasite in another. If we are hosts, we stay naive fools, and if we are parasites we stay the clever suckers - pun not intended.
I have made a life experiment on friendship and tried to establish which friendships are for life - and I found that only the host-parasite relationship has a chance of survival. I got my first shock when I was thirty. Until then my friendships were sacred to me. I had a very good friend who would join me for a glass of wine after work quite regularly. One day I told him that I did not drink wine anymore - and that was the last I saw of him.
I am now more than ever convinced that friendship is a host-parasite relationship. I know there are people, even in my own circle of influence who would give anything for friendship with an important person or celebrity. I think I would give anything not to be a friend of an important person or celebrity, because they are void of any value.
Friendship needs some common object of mutual veneration like family, money, some peculiar interest, recreation, sport or sex. And it should be free from all objects of mutual ambition. If there is competition in the friendship, it is lethal.
In take as an example the cleaning of fishes in the sea. There are certain areas in the sea where very large fishes can come and have their skin cleaned of parasites by smaller fishes which eat these parasites. If these large fishes wanted to, they could eat these smaller fishes for breakfast, but they do not, because these smaller fishes does them a favour. So it is an uneasy friendship with very little communication and mutual interests, but it works.
And that presents the notion that friendships are not only host-parasite relationships but also mutual beneficial relationships - like the one you have with your hair dresser or dentist. Trying as hard as I can, I find no other reason than the ones I enumerated previously.
Is that then all there is to friendship? Is that the reason some people say that the better they get to know mankind, the more they like their dogs? Is that why many people become socially estranged and later hermits?
There must be something more than one person sucking the other. I know of quite a few very close and dedicated friends who have these utopian relationships, and it works perfectly, like a David and Jonathan type of thing. And that is what brought me previously to share some thoughts on homosexuality (Part 19) - something I stay away from. If friendships become very intimate, they are bound to turn sexual, and if they do not have the right ingredients of mutual love, respect and friendship, they turn into bondages of the host-parasite group. It becomes a drug that you cannot do without.
Let us at least define some basis for friendship while we are at it. Solomon is on the point of doing that and then stops abruptly : Pro 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
As for myself, I am guided by my best friend Jesus Christ. I find his friendship enriches my life with the qualities he exposes in this friendship with me. Qualities like humility, love, forgiveness, understanding, accommodation of my faults, good counsel, moral and physical support, dedication, friendly warnings ... and many others.
Yes, that is it. I am dying to find that in myself and my fellow men.