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On Friendship

LENGTH: 2:38

FLAVOR: Walden essay

Friendship is like an open ray

Through the crevice of a door

Through memories of its purity

We are silently transformed.

I am not alone when I stand alone. I abide in my own greatness. My solitude extends to those I meet, to embraces theirs as my own. But the meaning is lost; we do not stand with our brothers as fellow men, but next to them, as operators, debt collectors, traders, skinners and butchers. Our relationships are mean and paltering. We proximate ourselves to wine, and curse ourselves when the taste sours and burns our tongues. But true friendship is clear like water—it stands equidistant between all parties. It does not pander to favors or dependency; it has no taste. Yes, its bond is as thin as those between strangers, —but it is stronger than blood.

Friendship is the sentiment, not the relations. Brothers we meet; enemies become friends. The sentiment is eternally equal, for it recognizes what was once dear can be lost through fear, insecurity, or jealousy; or gained again by patience or kindness. I treat all my associates equally, - in their best interest, - as friends. But my friends are those who are my moral equals or superiors. For true relations can only occur when its values are embodied by at least one of the two or more parties involved: we admire our friends for the potential they represent in ourselves.

The rude, of course, see a menial, trifling advantage—assistance in time of need, influence, benefits and exchange. They want associates and confidants merely. But friendship is not an expectation on others, but the obligation we hold to ourselves. It is the all-embracing service of character that in every feature and action draws out and improves our own, paying us compliment by expecting from us all the best virtues. —On the other hand, the exposure of a serious fault by one in another will produce a misunderstanding in proportion to its heinousness.

Friendship, the sentiment, takes no sides, except the side of Truth. Therein lies its true compassion, for it is Just. It associates with the deed, and not the persons. It takes virtue as its own blood - be it friend or foe's - and swims in its ideal. Because it is just, it cares not for rewards, favors, presumptions or history—and is thereby the prize of society: a grave liberty which shames us out of our nonsense. It is like the light that crusts our sinking mud, which we flick off so we can fly.

Let friendship not be profaned by cheap civility, or cheapened by familiarity. Let it remain sharp, and not dull with time. Inevitably we lose our innocence, but purity we can reclaim. Let our honest dealings with ourselves and each-other breathe new life into old bones; let it champion justice, rather than blind alliance; let it celebrate individuality, and not conformity. To tolerate and feed into the inadequacies of one another—that is not love, but the paramount of lies. The same applies to our familial ties. To coddle our children is to leave them desolate for adulthood. Better a broken, real relation, than an unreserved but falsely grounded one. Let our relations be useful, at least, if not admirable to one another.

In the past the words of a sage were worth more than the vote of five hundred men. In reality it counts for more, but one may never be convinced until they bear witness, firsthand, to pure power of someone entirely selfless, completely pure, devoid of prejudices and conceit, channeling Nature herself—drawing laws instead of feelings, speaking love instead of sentimentality. I was fortunate to meet such a man myself—his is the most valuable intercourse I've ever had. In proportion to the virtue of a good friend they are immortal, as gods. My friend Washington is gone, but he is certainly still alive. We do not see him, but by the honor we pay him, by the enduring council of his memory, he is immortal. Long after these mortal bodies perish, their virtue lives on, finding a like home in the chamber of our hearts.