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Family Life

Hope to love you long

In his post on the emotional intelligence of long experience, Alan Jacobs spotlights a letter from the great 18th century writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson to his younger friend, who at one point thought he had said something to offend Johnson:

You are not to imagine that my friendship is light enough to be blown away by the first cross blast, or that my regard or kindness hangs by so slender a hair, as to be broken off by the unfelt weight of a petty offence. I love you, and hope to love you long. You have hitherto done nothing to diminish my goodwill, and though you had done much more than you have supposed imputed to you my goodwill would not have been diminished.

I write thus largely on this suspicion which you have suffered to enter your mind, because in youth we are apt to be too rigorous in our expectations, and to suppose that the duties of life are to be performed with unfailing exactness and regularity, but in our progress through life we are forced to abate much of our demands, and to take friends such as we can find them, not as we would make them. …

When therefore it shall happen, as happen it will, that you or I have disappointed the expectation of the other, you are not to suppose that you have lost me or that I intended to lose you; nothing will remain but to repair the fault, and to go on as if it never had been committed.

This is great advice for life generally, but also during election season specifically. I saw stories of people breaking off relationships with their family members and friends based on their politics—which is, in my humble opinion, a completely asinine thing to do.

Ideologies ebb and flow. Elections come and go. Relationships that matter should endure beyond all of that. If that means making certain discussion topics off limits, all the better. To act otherwise means the terrorists win. (I’m only half joking.)

Categories
Etc. Life

Right you are, Aristotle

We’re reading Nicomachaen Ethics in my Philosophy 100 class. In Book IX Aristotle talks about friendship and what it requires. The three kinds of friendship he describes are:

1. utility: where each party finds something of use in the other
2. pleasure: whether it be simply enjoying each others company or sharing a common interest
3. complete: where self-interest is put aside and total moral virtue towards each other is key.

Aristotle claims that one should only have very few complete friendships for they require a lot of work and attention to keep strong. It was also said that there should be no justice among complete friends, meaning one shouldn’t expect everything to remain even. We should be willing to do anything for our friends even if that means not being at even with them. That being said, there are certain necessities for friendship:

-there should be a conscious reciprocity, meaning that the love within the friendship should be able to go both ways
-and that doing things for your friend isn’t something done merely out of goodwill for them. We should be willing to do those things out of complete love for them and not out of charity.

The reason I’m writing about this is because after I heard all of this, I realized that my friendships are always like this. I always seem to need justice within my friendships. This feeling probably comes from the pride within all of us. CS Lewis talked about pride in Mere Christianity as an ugly beast inside of us that works completely against all the good we hope for. It therefore is linked to humility. I want to be able to serve and love my friends without the expectation of eventual justice. It’s a daily battle I think we all fight.

That’s my two pennies.