|Vol. 12||FEBRUARY, 1911.||No. 5|
|Copyright, 1911, by H. W. PERCIVAL.|
LIKE honor, generosity, justice, sincerity, truthfulness and other virtues in frequent and indiscriminate use by the unmindful, friendship is spoken of and assurances of friendship are proffered and acknowledged everywhere; but, like the other virtues, and, although it is felt in some degree by all men, it is a bond and state most rare.
Wherever a number of people are brought together, attachments are formed between some who show to the others indifference or dislike. There is what schoolboys call their friendship. They exchange confidences and share in the same pastimes and sports and tricks and pranks out of the ebullience of youth. There is the shop girl, chorus girl, society girl friendship. They tell each other their secrets; they assist each other in carrying out their plans, and one is expected to practice any little deception by which the other’s plans may be furthered, or to shield her when discovery is not desired; their relationship allows one to unbosom herself to the other of the many important little things in which there is a common interest.
Business men speak of their friendship, which is usually conducted in a business-like way on a commercial basis. When favors are asked and granted they are returned. Each will give financial aid and support and lend his name to the other’s ventures and credit, but expects return in kind. Risks are at times taken in business friendships by one assisting the other where his own interests are thereby jeopardized; and business friendship has been extended to that degree that one has placed at the disposal of the other a large portion of his own fortune, so that the other, fearing loss or deprived of his fortune, might regain it. But this is not strictly business friendship. Strictly business friendship may be characterized by the estimate of the Wall Street man who, when ready to organize and float a mining company of questionable value, and wishing to give it an appearance of strength and standing, says: “I will advise Mr. Moneybox and Mr. Dollarbill and Mr. Churchwarden, about the company. They are friends of mine. I shall ask them to take so many shares of stock and will make them directors. What are your friends good for if you can’t use them.” Friendship of politicians requires support of the party, abetting and furthering each other’s schemes, the putting through of any bill, irrespective of whether it is just, of benefit to the community, grants special privilege, or is of a nature most corrupt and abominable. “Can I depend on your friendship,” the leader asks one of his supporters when an obnoxious measure is to be forced upon his party and imposed upon the people. “You have it, and I will see you through,” is the answer which assures him of the other’s friendship.
There is the friendship between genteel rakes and men of the world described by one of them when he explains to another, “Yes, to establish Charlie’s honor and to preserve our friendship, I lied like a gentleman.” In the friendship between thieves and other criminals, it is not only expected that one shall assist the other in crime, and share in the guilt as in the plunder, but that he will go to any extreme to shield him from the law or to secure his liberation if imprisoned. The friendship between shipmates, soldiers and policemen requires that the acts of one, though without merit and even shameful, will be supported and defended by another to assist him to hold his position or to be appointed to a higher one. Through all of these friendships there is a class spirit with which each body or set is embued.
There is the friendship of plainsmen, mountaineers, hunters, travelers and explorers, which is formed by their being thrown together in the same environment, undergoing the same hardships, knowing and struggling through the same dangers and holding similar ends in view. The friendships of these are usually formed by the feeling or need of mutual protection against the physical dangers, by guidance and aid given in dangerous localities, and by assistance against wild beasts or other enemies in the forest or desert.
Friendship must be distinguished from other relationships like acquaintance, sociability, intimacy, familiarity, friendliness, comradeship, devotion, or love. Those acquainted, may be indifferent or inimical to each other; friendship requires each to have an interest in and deep regard for the other. Sociability requires agreeable intercourse in society and hospitable entertainment; but those who are sociable may speak ill or act against those with whom they are agreeable. Friendship will allow no such deceit. Intimacy may have existed for years in business, or in other circles requiring one’s presence, yet he may loathe and despise one with whom he is intimate. Friendship will permit of no such feeling. Familiarity comes from intimate acquaintance or from social intercourse, which may be irksome and disliked; no ill feeling or dislike can exist in friendship. Friendliness is an act or the state in which one has another’s interest at heart, which may be neither appreciated nor understood by the other; friendship is not one-sided; it is reciprocal and understood by both. Comradeship is personal association and companionship, which may end when the comrades are separated; friendship does not depend on personal contact or association; friendship may exist between those who have never seen each other and endures, however great a distance in space and time may intervene. Devotion is an attitude in which one holds himself toward any person, subject or being; a state in which he becomes ardently engaged, in working for a cause, in striving for the attainment of some ambition or ideal, or in the worship of Deity. Friendship exists between mind and mind, but not between mind and an ideal, nor an abstract principle; nor is friendship the worship which the mind gives to Deity. Friendship affords a similar or mutual ground for thought and action between mind and mind. Love is usually considered to be an ardent yearning and longing for, a fervent outpouring of emotion and affection toward some thing, person, place or being; and love is particularly thought of and used to designate the feeling or emotions, or the affectional relationship existing between members of a family, between lovers, or between husband and wife. Friendship may exist between members of a family and between man and woman; but the relationship between lovers, or husband and wife is not friendship. Friendship requires no gratification of the senses nor any physical relationship. The relationship of friendship is mental, of the mind, and is not of the senses. The love of man toward God, or by God of man, is the attitude of an inferior to a superior being, or that of an all powerful being to one who is finite and incapable of understanding him. Friendship approaches equality. Friendship may be said to be love, if the love is devoid of passion; the feeling or knowledge of relationship, unblinded by attachments of the senses; a state in which the sense of superior and inferior disappears.
There are other ways in which the word has been used, such as the friendship between man and dog, horse, and other animal. The bond between animal and man, which is mistaken for friendship, is the similarity of nature in desire, or the response of the desire of the animal to the action of man’s mind on it. An animal is responsive to the action of man and is appreciative and responsive to his thought. But it can only respond by service, and a readiness to do that which its desire nature is capable of doing. The animal may serve man and readily die in his service. But still there is no friendship between animal and man, because friendship requires a mutual understanding and responsiveness of mind and thought, and there is no such responsiveness nor communication of thought from animal to man. The animal can at best reflect man’s thought to him. It cannot understand the thought except as related to its own desire; it cannot originate thought, nor convey to man anything of a mental nature. The reciprocity between mind and mind through thought, essential in the bond of friendship, is impossible between man, mind, and animal, desire.
The test of true or false friendship is in the unselfish or the selfish interest which one has in another. True friendship is not merely a community of interest. There may be friendship between those who have a community of interest, but true friendship has no thought of getting something for what is given, or being in any way repaid for what is done. True friendship is the thinking of another and the acting with or for another for his or her welfare, without allowing any thought of one’s own self interest to interfere with what is thought and done for the other. True friendship is in the unselfish motive which causes the thinking and the acting for another’s good, without self interest.
The acting or pretending to act for another’s interests, when the cause of such action is for one’s own satisfaction and selfish interest, is not friendship. This is often shown where there is a community of interests and where those concerned speak of their friendship for each other. The friendship lasts until one thinks he is not getting his share, or until the other refuses to agree with him. Then the friendly relations cease and what was called friendship was truly a self seeking interest. When one holds a relationship called friendship with another or others because by means of such friendship he may receive benefits, or have his wants gratified, or obtain his ambitions, there is no friendship. The proof that a professed friendship is no friendship, is seen when one wishes another to do wrong. Friendship can exist where one or both or all will derive benefits by the friendship; but if self interest is the motive which holds them together, their friendship is seeming. In true friendship each will have the other’s interest at heart no less than his own, because his thought of the other is greater and more important than wants and ambitions, and his actions and dealing show the trend of his thoughts.
True friendship will not consent to a friend’s life being endangered to save one’s own. One who expects or wishes his friend to risk his life, to lie, to lose his honor, in order that he might be saved from any of these risks, is not a friend, and friendship does not exist on his side. Great devotion may be and is shown in friendship when devotion is necessary, such as the long and patient care for the physical or mental weaknesses of another and in patiently working with him to relieve his suffering and to aid him in the strengthening of his mind. But true friendship does not require, it prohibits, the doing of physical or moral or mental wrong, and devotion can only be used to the extent that devotion in friendship requires no wrong to be done to anyone. True friendship is of too high a standard of morality and honesty and mental excellence to allow devotion or inclination to go to that degree in the supposed service of a friend if it would injure others.
One might be willing to sacrifice himself and may even sacrifice his life in the cause of friendship, if such sacrifice is for a noble purpose, if by such sacrifice he does not sacrifice the interests of those who are connected with him, and if his own interests in life are sacrificed only, and he does not depart from duty. He shows the truest and greatest friendship who will injure no one and do no wrong, even in the cause of friendship.
Friendship will cause one to reach out in thought or act to his friend, to relieve him in affliction, to comfort him in distress, to lighten his burdens and assist him when in need, to strengthen him in temptation, to hold out hope in his despair, to help him clear away his doubts, to encourage him when in adversity, tell him how to dispel his fears, how to overcome his troubles, explain how to learn from disappointments and turn misfortune into opportunity, to steady him through the storms of life, to stimulate him to new attainments and higher ideals, and, withal, never to retard or restrict his free action in thought or word.
Place, environment, circumstances, conditions, disposition, temperament and position, appear to be the cause or causes of friendship. They only appear to be. These only furnish the settings; they are not the causes of true and lasting friendship. The friendship which is formed and endures now is the result of a long evolution. It is not a mere chance happening, though friendships may begin now and be carried on and live forever. Friendships begin through gratitude. Gratitude is not the mere thankfulness which a beneficiary feels toward his benefactor. It is not the thanks given to cold charity for alms, nor is it the feeling miscalled gratitude felt or shown by an inferior for what his superior has bestowed upon him. Gratitude is one of the noblest of the virtues and is a god-like attribute. Gratitude is an awakening of the mind to some good thing said or done, and the unselfish and free out-going of the heart toward the one who did it. Gratitude levels all castes or positions. A slave may have gratitude for the owner of his body for some kindness shown, as a sage has gratitude for a child for awakening him to a clearer conception of some phase of the problem of life and God has gratitude for the man who manifests the divinity of life. Gratitude is the ally of friendship. Friendship begins when the mind goes out in gratitude to another for some kindness shown by word or deed. Some kindness will be shown in return, not by way of payment, but because of the inward prompting; because action follows the impulses of the heart and the thought and the other in turn feels grateful for the genuineness of the appreciation of what he has done; and so, each feeling the sincerity and kindness of the other toward himself, a mutual and mental understanding grows up between them and ripens into friendship.
Difficulties will arise and the friendship will at times be sorely tried, but the friendship will hold if self interest is not too strong. Should things arise which interrupt or appear to break the friendship, such as going to a distant place, or such as disagreements arising, or should communication cease, still, the friendship, though seemingly broken, is not at an end. Though neither should see the other before death, the friendship, having begun, is not yet at an end. When those minds reincarnate in the next or some future life, they will meet again and their friendship will be renewed.
When they are drawn together, some expression of thought by word or act will reawaken the minds and they will feel and think as kindred, and in that life stronger links may be forged in the chain of friendship. Again will these friendships be renewed and be apparently broken by separation, disagreements or death; but at each renewal of the friendship one of the friends will readily recognize the other and the friendship will be re-established. They will not know of their friendships in their former bodies in other lives, yet the kindred feeling will be none the less strong for that. Strong friendships appearing to spring from chance or on short acquaintance, and which last through the vicissitudes of life, do not begin at the apparently accidental happening of a chance meeting. The meeting was not an accident. It was the visible link in a long chain of events extending through other lives, and the renewed meeting and recognition by the kindred feeling was the taking up the friendship of the past. Some act or expression of one or both will cause the friend-feeling and it will continue thereafter.
The destruction of friendship begins when one is jealous of the attentions paid the other, or his friend’s attentions to others. If he envies his friend for his having possessions, accomplishments, talents or genius, if he wishes to put his friend in the shade or outshine him, the feelings of jealousy and envy will create or make use of possible suspicions and doubts, and self interest will direct them in their work of destruction of the friendship. With their continued activity will be called into existence the opposites of friendship. Dislike will appear and will grow into inimity. This is usually preceded, where the self interest is strong, by an abuse of friendship.
The abuse of friendship begins when one’s intention is to make use of the other without due consideration of him. This is seen in business, where one would prefer his friend to strain a point to serve him rather than to strain a point to serve his friend. In politics it is seen where one tries to use his friends in his own interests without a willingness to serve them in theirs. In social circles the abuse of friendship is manifest when one of those who call each other friends, wishes and tries to use friends for his own self interest. From the mild request for another to do some trifling thing because of friendship, and when the doing is against that other’s wish, the abuse of friendship may be carried to the request of another to commit a crime. When the other finds that the professed friendship is only a desire to obtain his services, the friendship weakens and may die out, or it may change into the opposite of friendship. Friendship is not to be abused.
The essential to the continuance of friendship is that each must be willing that the other has freedom of choice in his thought and action. When such attitude exists in friendship it will endure. When self interest is introduced and continued, the friendship is likely to change into hostility, antipathy, aversion, and hatred.
Friendship is kindredness of minds and is based and established on the spiritual origin and ultimate unity of all beings.
Friendship is that conscious relationship between mind and mind, which grows and is established as the result of one’s motive in thought and act being for the best interests and well being of the other.
Friendship begins when the act or thought of one causes another mind or other minds to recognize the kindredness between them. The friendship grows as thoughts are directed and acts are performed without self interest and for the permanent good of the others. Friendship is well formed and established and cannot then be broken when the relationship is recognized to be spiritual in its nature and purpose.
Friendship is one of the greatest and best of all relationships. It awakens and brings out and develops the truest and noblest qualities of the mind, through human action. Friendship can and does exist between those who have personal interests and whose desires are similar; but neither personal attractions nor similarity of desire can be the basis of real friendship.
Friendship is essentially a relationship of mind, and unless this mental bond exists there can be no real friendship. Friendship is one of the most lasting and best of relationships. It has to do with all the faculties of the mind; it causes the best in a man to act for his friend, and, eventually, it causes the best in one to act for all men. Friendship is one of the essential factors, and stimulates all other factors, in the building of character; it tests the weak places and shows how to strengthen them; it shows its deficiencies and how to supply them, and it guides in the work with unselfish endeavor.
Friendship awakens and calls forth sympathy where there had been little or no sympathy before, and puts a friend more in touch with the sufferings of his fellow man.
Friendship draws out honesty by compelling the deceits and false coverings and pretenses to fall away, and allowing the genuine nature to be seen as it is, and to express itself ingenuously in its native state. Probity is developed by friendship, in standing the tests and proving its trustworthiness through all the trials of friendship. Friendship teaches truthfulness in thought and speech and action, by causing the mind to think about that which is good or best for the friend, by causing a friend to speak that without quibble which he believes to be true and for his friend’s best interest. Friendship establishes faithfulness in man by his knowing and keeping confidences. Fearlessness increases with the growth of friendship, by the absence of doubt and distrust, and by the knowing and exchange of good will. The quality of strength becomes stronger and purer as friendship advances, by its exercise in the interests of another. Friendship develops unrevengefulness in man, by quieting anger and chasing away thoughts of ill will, rancor or malice and by thinking of the other’s good. Harmlessness is called forth and established through friendship, by one’s inability to hurt his friend, by the friendliness which friendship stimulates, and by the unwillingness of a friend to do aught that would harm the other. Through friendship generosity is inspired, in the wish to share and to give the best that one has to his friends. Unselfishness is learned through friendship, by readily and gladly subordinating one’s wishes to the best interests of his friend. Friendship causes the cultivation of temperateness, by the practice of self restraint. Friendship evokes and perfects courage, by causing one to face danger boldly, to act bravely, and to valiantly defend the cause of another. Friendship promotes patience, by causing one to bear with the faults or vices of his friend, to persevere in showing them to him when advisable, and to endure the time necessary for their overcoming and transforming into virtues. Friendship aids in the growth of worthiness, by esteem for another, and the rectitude and integrity and high standard of life which friendship demands. Through friendship is attained the power of helpfulness, by listening to one’s troubles, partaking in his cares, and by showing the way for the overcoming of his difficulties. Friendship is a promoter of purity, by aspiring to high ideals, by the cleansing of one’s thoughts, and devotion to true principles. Friendship aids in the development of discrimination, by causing one to search out, criticize and analyze his motives, to arraign, examine and judge his thoughts, and to determine his action and discharge his duties to his friend. Friendship is an aid to virtuousness, by demanding the highest morality, by exemplary nobleness and by living in conformity with its ideals. Friendship is one of the educators of the mind, because it clears away obscurities and requires the mind to see its intelligent relationship to another, to measure and understand that relationship; it gives an interest in other’s plans and aids in the developing of them; it causes the mind to become modified, equalized and well balanced by quieting its restlessness, checking its effusiveness, and regulating its expression. Friendship requires of the mind the control of its turbulence, the overcoming of its resistance, and the bringing order out of confusion by righteousness in thought and justice in action. Friendship by singleness of purpose assists the mind to distinguish its identity, arrive at self knowledge, and finally to see its relationship with all others.
To be concluded.