Since antiquity from the noble bonds between Greek heroes, Russian aristocracy or poets evokes a type of genuine enduring friendship that transcends all time and space. It was assumed that friendship had an ethical filia of mutual interest of civic relationship. Historically since the Christian monastic era and cathedral schools friendships were spiritualised and devoted to charitable good works and the concept of what may be termed “agape” and during romanticism a strong visceral inclination for friendships based on feeling and emotive sentiments.
These have been the etiquettes for friendship based upon benevolence and recipricosity, virtues extolled by the philosopher Aristotle whose musings on friendship saw them as being virtuous dyads based on ethical values, the furtherance of human potentiality and where the welfare of social interest was preserved. These are the earliest forms of friendship which were bonds that were unified on the plausible basis that enabled people they cared about to live lives of purpose, courage and creativity.
Nowadays friendship is based on a rather loose hypothesis evolving largely from our commercialised western culture over which the overarching emphasis is on the notion of “I” and not “We”. It translates into largely the preoccupation of self interest above all else and the sense of expediency or utilitarian value abounding across friendship in modern times.
We live in a narcissistic society which is present in all our transactions and exchanges. It is heavily emphasized our insincere valuation of people as objects to either extract something from or to promote enjoyment or pleasure. It is something that abounds in our human relations and people are assessed according to their ability to be exploited or used. The great supermarket of friendship that it has become where your desirability as a friend is assessed according utilitarian informalities and simulated complicity like a modern rudimentary business relationship.
What was once revered in classical times as friendship has devolved into a malaise of unclear and socially unacknowledged criteria for what makes a true friend. Our definitions of what makes a friend in today's culture is very thin. It is customary to entertain friendships with those whom we typically feel good around but possibly never to go further to bring into question the real reason why people come together. They are usually under the dubious mantle of utilitarian individualism and its concomitant pleasure as auxillaries. The lubricant for friendship today is the pursuit of happiness, an urgent call for conviviality and feel-good moments to ameliorate the sense of unease and lack of adjustment in todays faced pace world.
Friendship as a moral commitment in today's culture is largely extinct and being alerted to a friend that deserts you in a time of need is the price we pay for a society obsessed with self promotion and indulgence every kind of largesse existing today. Being let down by someone like this brings into question what kinds of friendships we have been entertaining and is possibly worse than having no friend at all. How your friends respond in a time of trouble will delineate whether they will stay loyal to you and dig their heels in for both the good and the bad. Once the motive for friendship has been revealed it will drop like a leaf off a tree and it cannot go back to what it used to be.
Friendship was once a moral axiom through which the bonds of association were eternal and lasting and did not dissolve under trying conditions. A good friendship according to Aristotle takes place only between good men and not for what can be extracted on an appreciable level but for which true love exists between people and “not incidental qualities”.
The kind philosophical overview of today demonstrates that our value systems have been largely compromised and there are so many consciously unacknowledged grey areas having gone under a materialistic attrition through previously unheard of no-go zones. Friendship has now been reduced to an artifact and subsumed via the infantile marketplace and terminal narcissism - its possibly the only constant in a world of uncertainty and can be dispensed with at whim without self reflection or a speck of sentimentality.
Neoliberalism on a sociological level has reduced the power, depth and dimensions of friendship to a contemporary object of expedience to the detriment of the fabric of society. Friendship is seen only in isolation with no significance, null-effect or impinging value to the larger phenomenal wellbeing and regulation of societies. It is viewed as largely being divorced from the system being reduced to a item in singularity with no conceding value. Our view of friendship is myopic detached from abstract realities and does not take into account the intersection of friendship with the establishment of firmly just and unshakeable societies as its rubric.
There are no enshrined values such as esteeming friendship as an enduring investment in social capital under which families and communities continue to exist and thrive. If they are they are very rare indeed while the edifice of society washes away through the lack of commitment to something greater than ourselves than beyond our egoistic whims. This is really confronting the obvious when nobody is willing to go beyond their distinct satiable drives to something more purposeful, more abstract and counterfactual.
The way we conduct friendship is largely for the notable success and happiness of ourselves with no obligatory commitment to the welfare of a friend or to the larger whole of society. It is impersonal, rapacious and calculable under the compelling index of how we can profit from interractions with simulated connection, human warmth and complicity. Nobody can really be a friend or accept or love eachother once trust is won. In todays world with the advent of social media and consumer commerce bonds are formed instantaneously with little or no question about who we are inviting into our lives. In a world where everything is immediate and about convenience our current friendship model is at its lowest form - just shake and stir and don't worry about the future is the prevailing motto. Prudent decisions about friendship and their ramifications are ill-considered.
In classical times friendship was based on virtue - it involved recognition of a person's wellbeing and how they would ignite their infinite potentials as a human being. It engendered a clear recognition of eachothers excellence and personal merits and a willingness to be of altruistic value in their life. The emotions of care concern and compassion were the order of the day. A friendship that served as a guiding light that allowed one to gravitate on the proper course in life through tangibly keen expressions of interest.
Thus experiencing the kind of interpersonal exchange that is the most unwittingly beautiful in its essence, spontinaeity and candour. It is for this reason that virtue maintains and preserves genuine friendship and this alone. Where there are grey areas in life and no distinct clear cut values about what is clear and what is not, friendship also falls prey to this lack of talent when it comes to friendship. This cleaving without the desire for any advantage is what cultivates the blossoming of authentic relationships.
We are perishable, life is transient and in the end all that we would have liked to have held dear to our hearts is true connection. Therefore the greatest of all things is friendship. Many people delay the inevitable and think of themselves as being death-less in a way and fill their lives with distractions entertainment and material pleasures. Its a way to allay the unconscious finite nature of their lives. “You only live once” is the catch-cry and its almost expected nowadays to live outside the ordinary as if something is owed to you as if your very life depended upon living for the day.
These competitive lifestyle notions reinforce social expectations when it comes to how we go about entertaining people in our largely prejorative class-based systems. This of course has nothing to do with true fellowship but keeping up a facade and fulfilling artificial expectations. It only leads to hunger for more and more to the exclusion of those who cannot participate economically on a social level.
Once you are relengated to the bottom strata of society you are assessed as having no social or economic value and are ignored and sidelined. The only problem is no-body is immune and people from well-heeled societies can easily slip through the cracks in an instant. All it takes is an illness, a job layoff or a divorce or economic crisis. Therefore all life should be intrinsically valued We ought to value people because they are BORN not due to ascribing some anxiety about their worthiness as a human being.
The same can be said about instrumentality the means of exacting something from someone as an agenda to get essential necessities met via the deceiving guise of “friendship”. This kind of friendship is tokenistic at best and again reflects the market relationship of exchange where there was once genuine altruism transformed to one of utility. It is not a civic relationship but one of co-dependency and dysfunctionalism that impairs the participants ability to freely act on their own behalf and have a sense of autonomy, self direction and liberty.
The degradation of friendship in modern society means that any behaviour can be permissable and may very well despise the person we extract things from and engage in conduct that is consistent with such a lowly condition. Because the relationship is essential to mutual interest their behaviours go unchecked and nobody is willing to have a tete-a-tete to bring to account that persons propensities for destructive behaviour thus further abandoning them to every conceivable type of human prolifigacy and miscreation.
When survival is based on a paleo version of friendship where its essential for both the physical and psychological health of the individual the people involved may engage in ongoing censorship about their human inadequacies because their need for human contact is so strong that they fear losing people unless they show a brave face. It has nothing to do with human dignity but fear and tension of being left alone swimming shark infested waters and losing all their support networks which are only benevolent to the extent of the changing winds.
The atomizing effects of ill-health restrict the selection of relationships based on choice alone so it is like a seagull feeding from breadcrumbs from the hand of a sailor and we may well be lumbered with people with whom we harbor antipathy and feel duly inconvenienced by. Its an undesirable situation but often reasoned as being something better than nothing at all.
Friendships are now thinner than ever – there is little depth and quality to them and in todays culture and people have little time to invest in friendship unless it serves as a vehicle for joint conspicuous consumption in a market democracy that says you must have in order “to be”. We are the veritable Kath&Kim's of this world going arm in arm to Fountain Gate Shopping complex as the only level of closeness and engagement we have is about defining ourselves by what we don't have.
Once you experience a certain level of prosperity however connection will begin to take precedence over anything you once had. You cannot put a price on solidarity and friendship when it comes to your innate growth and unveiling of whom you wish to be on an existential level and where you feel you can have glorious epiphanies that go beyond your existing state of awareness. The dynamic treasures of sharing, the closeness over a make-shift meal, the priceless discussions, all the care and concern not from frivolous fancy but pure motives will be permanently etched in your mind forever.
We know this type of goodwill in society is hard to come by for people like us. You will always remember a good friend in your heart of hearts. If you have had one like these like I had you are very blessed and fortunate indeed and you will want to carry on their benevolent legacy to those with whom have earned your loyalty and trust into the future to nurture those you hold dear.