‘Honest friendship is a better choice than emotional love for a steady diet, says an American thinker. Suspicion, jealousy, prejudice, and strife follow in the wake of passionate love; and disgrace murder and suicide lurk just around the corner from where lovers cooing like mating pigeons. Emotional love is a matter of proximity; it makes demands, asks for proofs and wants frequent reassurance. Friendship seeks no ownership –it only hopes to serve, and it grows by giving even from a distance. Unfortunately, this does not apply the same with passionate love. Love bestows only that it may receive, and a one-sided passion turns to hate in a night, and then demands vengeance as its right and proportion. Friendship asks no foolish vows, it is strong in absence and most loyal when needed. It lends ballast to life and gives steadily to every venture’.
True friendship unlocks the soul, warms the heart and opens the mind for sharing knowledge, encouragement and human joy. Like the evening burning fireside, that makes cold winter days tolerable and long nights shorter, homely and romantic. Who never had a true friend in life, said Plutarch the biographer; it touches this world just only on the surface. A sincere friend is like the sea level or pine forest air, which cleanse the blood and multiplies red corpuscles rapidly with richer oxygen. Without a dear friend, we feel numb and lonely among the busy crowd. When Alexander the great arrived in India, he wrote to his teacher and friend Aristotle. “Send me something to read, he said, I live alone with my thoughts amidst a throng of men, but without a true friend or companion”.
When Aristotle publishes his philosophical lectures to the world, Alexander, disappointed, wrote to him. “Now the entire world will know what formerly belonged to you and me alone”. Do not worry, replied Aristotle, because they are published and not published; no one can learn from a book what he has not prepared for long time before”.
We hear, people feel waif like, depressed and desperate from the death of a dear friend. Vincent van Gogh’s, Brother Theo, wrote to his sister-in-law after Vincent’s sudden death. “I do not wish to live any longer without Vincent, he said; Vincent was not only my brother, but my only true friend in this world. Theo, died indeed shortly afterwards as result from his great sorrows. Such a friendship, of course, occurs in all nations and all times, but in ancient Greece, it was an institution. Their system of education was taking place through friendship. Every youngster formed a friendship with an older person for his education. They had passion for their friend, which continued for all lifelong. The famous ‘Theban Band’ it was formed by Pairs of friends, who marched and fought in battle side by side and drew encouragement from each other. King Philip the Macedonian, astonished with their fighting spirit in the famous Chaeronea battle, said. “Perish any man who suspects that these Theban man either did or suffer anything that was base, they fought exclusively with the soul and spirit of Hellenic friendship”.
When the ancient Greek famous man Alcibiades and Pelopidas was wounded in the battle, Socrates and Epaminondas each stood above the body of their friend and fought to save his life. These are names of immortal friendship and glory, which will remain a monument down through human history. This is the ideal spirit of Greek comradeship by supporting each other and assisting with mind, hand with hand perfecting their souls in which they dwell.
“The only reward for virtue is virtue is virtue, said Emerson, and the only way to have a friend is to be first one. You shall not come nearer to man by getting into his house, as his soul flees faster from you and you shall never catch a true glance of his eyes”. Only when our perception arrives at the same level as our friend, we will amalgamate instantly like water with water and ether with ether. Often mental thoughts moving forwards when the soul grows and becomes unable to feed each other as before, like the silkworms that metamorphosed into butterflies. At primary school, we exchange happily gifts of apples, pears and pomegranates with our friends, but as we grow older, the nature of our mental gifts changes too. However, we must not worry so much if we depart from our primary school friends, but we should say with certainty; O! Friend, although we part at moment, we will meet on a higher platform one day to share more advanced celestial gifts, once over again.
Dr Dimitri Karalis
Hermanus- South Africa