NOTE: This is the second in a series on friendship. View the first post here.
Let’s consider some of the practical implications of friendship.
What are the deepest desires underlying friendship? You want to love someone, and, in turn, be loved. You want someone you can trust and talk to. You want to help this other human being progress. Indeed, seeing the progress he makes as a result of the influence you have had on him is incredibly rewarding.
But friendship is give-and-take, so to speak. It can’t be one-sided. As such, it takes a lot of effort.
The other day I noticed a train of thought I experienced. It is much easier for me to overlook the faults and foibles of a friend than an enemy. While I may be quick to criticize an enemy (even if not verbally), I tend to be much more patient with my friends. And in such an important relationship, this usually tends to be a good thing. It leads to deep, abiding love despite imperfection. After all, my friends have to put up with a lot of my idiosyncrasies and mistakes. Why shouldn’t I be patient with theirs?
Friendship requires a deep level of trust, which (naturally) takes a long time to develop. Trusting someone could be a rather dangerous thing. Many examples in history illustrate this danger. For example, Julius Caesar is betrayed by his associate Marcus Brutus; Jesus is betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of his twelve closest friends; Lehonti in the Book of Mormon is poisoned by Amalickiah, a man who had professed to have his best interest at heart.
I would trust my best friend with anything I have, from the dark secrets of my inner self to my passwords or bank card. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I have given him all those things, but the trust exists that I would be comfortable doing it, were it to be necessary. This places me in a very vulnerable situation. Should he betray me, I could lose everything. But the value and benefit of the friendship outweighs that risk.
That is, of course, a very objective way of looking at it. Rarely is emotion absent from analysis of important human relationships. When I’m with my friend, I’m not worried about whether he might betray me at some future time. We trust each other, and the emotion of love breaks down the obscuring walls of objectivity.
While there are great risks, there are great benefits to be had in a friendship. I see this as a manifestation of the age-old principle of the necessity of “opposition in all things,” as Book of Mormon writer Lehi phrases it, or as a relative of Newton’s Third Law that there can be no reaction without an instigating action.