Almost Intelligent

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But Ya Gotta Have Friends

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In my third column I took a courageous stand in defending the institution of friendship, which we all know is a controversial topic. Don’t call me a hero, just know I am incredibly brave for addressing it.

Without friends no man would choose to live, though he had all other goods. -Aristotle

Brennan Huff: Listen, I know that we started out as foe. But after that courageous act that you showed me against the one they call Derek, maybe someday we could become friends. Friends who ride majestic, translucent steeds, shooting flaming arrows across the bridge of Hemdale.
Dale Doback: I would follow you into the mists of Avalon if that’s what you mean.

Peter Klaven: I need to get some fucking friends.

As you can see, in preparing for this article I did exhaustive research consisting of googling an Aristotle quote I was pretty sure I had heard somewhere, and then quickly googling two more sources from pop culture. In case the character names aren’t immediately apparent, those sources are “Step Brothers” and “I Love You Man”, respectively. Not being up on what the kids like these days, I am forced to assume that the latter two are also dignified works of philosophy, whose contributions to the field have come to rival those of Aristotle himself.

It has been brought to my attention (by myself, just now) that I said in my first column that I would be tackling controversial issues. Yet here I am, writing about friendship, which is probably only slightly less controversial that the question of whether it is socially acceptable to use kittens as golf balls (the answer is yes right? What? It’s not? Oh…I’ve…oh God…I’ve made a terrible mistake).

I just made a terrible joke. In poor taste? Certainly. Unfunny? Possibly. You know what the cool thing is though? I know people who would listen to me tell that joke, and who would not immediately leave the room. They might fake some laughter or more likely just roll their eyes. They would not do the sensible thing and call the police because of my disturbing facility with dead kitten jokes. These people are my friends. I do have them, don’t act so shocked.

Aristotle would have us believe that friendship is built out of reason. Of course, he would have that to say about most things, or at least, the version of Aristotle I’m using here would. To be honest, I’ve not read him in a while and could have just made that up. In any case, I am not sure friendship is always a rational relationship. If you want proof, think of anything you’ve done with friends that falls under the “memorable” category. Now, much of what you think of just now have to do with reason? Nope, didn’t think so.

Better yet, think of your oldest friends, or your best friends. Really try to think of why you’re friends. An easy answer would be “because we share the same interests/ideas/beliefs”. But that’s not really true, is it? All kinds of friends have wildly divergent beliefs or interests. One of my friends is deeply religious. In her adherance to her faith, she’s adopted positions that I find untenable, that I disagree with just as profoundly as she believes in them.I’m sure she has as many misgivings about my views as I do about hers.  And yet, we’re friends. Perhaps we should not be. Perhaps logic demands that this divide drives us apart.

Here is the great thing though, they don’t. Despite everything, I know that she would be there to help me if I needed it, and that I would be there if she needed me. This aspect of friendship is overlooked, I think, because it is such a natural part of it. Of course I would do that, you say, without qualification, without reservation, they’re my friend.

Every day we are presented with reasons why we should hate other people, reasons why we should protest them, demonize them, even kill them. Many people will paint the world in terms of oppositions, groups that disagree and must therefore destroy one another. It seems no small wonder that the world has not torn itself apart already. I believe, more and more every day, that friendship is the best hope for holding the world together.

It is not a bond of family, or country, both noble, necessary bonds, but largely accidents of birth. It is entirely voluntary, and like love, comes from a mixture of pure chance and is often irrational on its face. Because part of friendship is saying “I might disagree with you, I might be mad at you sometimes, but really, I know that you are just a person like me. So I choose to stand beside you, and your crazy ideas and your stupid jokes, because you’re my friend.”

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Written by Colin Hodd

April 14, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Posted in The Titular Column

Tagged with ,

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