“But very few modern people think Friendship a love of comparable value [to Eros] or even a love at all,” says Lewis in “The Four Loves.”
As you well know, adulthood makes Friendship difficult. I remember overhearing someone who was evaluating his time spent with this-and-that person in comparison to what he gained from it – access to a boat or a wine cellar or special events. In short, he was commodifying his relationships without really connecting those sinister dots. It’s a habit that can find its being, with beastly gumption, inside capitalism.
Why? Lewis says, “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue.” And, instead, Lewis says we ignore it. I would weigh it heavier than ignoring it; we abuse and twist it. But, perhaps, our abuse is because few of us have ever seen it untampered. And, we don’t need it, right? It’s the least natural of the loves, Lewis says, it’s “the least instinctive, organic, biological, gregarious and necessary.” In other words, he says, “there in nothing throaty about it.” I like that. Friendship doesn’t have the same pressures or emotions of Eros; it never loses its bearings or blushes or shyly forgets to speak a simple sentence.
Lewis reflects on antiquity’s distrust of emotion and charm as a reason for Friendship to be highly valued. You could rely on it because it was counter to the natural needs and attractions of Eros. “In Friendship–in that luminous, tranquil, rational world of relationships freely chosen–you got away from all that,” he says. “This alone, of all the loves, seemed to raise you to the level of gods and angels.”
How do you define friendship?
Are you a friend, and if so, what ongoing ways is that demonstrated?
What challenges does friendship face in our technologically-driven age?