Essay No. 198:

Friendship: Friendship implies an understanding between two or more persons on common problems of mutual interest in life. Friends are, on the whole on the same mental wavelength in life. To quote Bacon ‘that a friend is another himself, for that a friend is far more than himself. (of Friendship) They share each other’s problems in good faith, without involving any material consideration. Welfare of each is sacred to the other. Friendship is above mercenary motives.

Shakespeare eulogies friendship in the following lines:

‘But if the while I think on thee, dear friend

All losses are restored and sorrows end.’

A friend is a great assets, whose existence helps sorrow end in life. A man can come out with secrets, feelings and desires, frustrations and take his friend into confidence. If there were no outlets available to man to reveal his suppressed emotions, he would be consumed by tension and depression.

Bacon, a great essayist in his essay ‘of friendship’ opines that Roman history shows instances of wise kings having confided in certain men, who were elevated to high position. Even kings felt the need of same reliable men in whom they could confide their secrets. In other words, if feelings and emotions remain suppressed, man could become a patient of depression.

Friendship offers an outlet to give vent to one’s suppressed feelings. Man needs some channel to express his grief. A friend is the best channel to share the grief. Man can seek catharsis of his pent up emotions through a friend. The latter is the best intermediary to achieve the objective.

A friend is a cruel critic of his friend’s shortcomings. He points out latter’s follies and mistakes for their rectification. Only a sincere friend will tell you when your face is dirty. Above all if a man dies without fulfilling some desire, then his friend would struggle after his death, to give a shape to his unfulfilled desire.

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Bacon standing for utilitarianism, in the essay under reference recounts the advantages to be had from friendship. The present times are times of selfishness. People in the guise of sincerity, approach a person when he is economically well off. They are friends of the festal hour. When adversity overtakes a person they take to their heels.

As they are primarily interested in promoting their fishy interests. Hence a great care may be shown in the selection of friends. Fair weather friends need to be kept at a bay. Such like people who change their way to the direction of the blowing of wind, are sincere only to themselves.

One should have the competence to read the people around oneself. Insincere selfish people should be avoided as far as possible. In the sphere of politics, it is said that there are no permanent friends and foes. An enemy of today can be a friend of tomorrow. Politicians/nations, court friendship with their erstwhile foes, as and when interests so warrant.

The developed/underdeveloped countries accept this as a rule and thus shape, reshape their foreign policies subject to the promotion of their interests. The philosophy veers round: ends determine means. In essence it is devoid of moral considerations.

The importance of friendship is summed up by Virginia Woolf – an English novelist when she says “some people go to priests, other to poetry; I to my friends.” Indeed friendship is a sheltering tree which affords man protection against forces of unfaithfulness, deceit, etc.


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