The Mystery of Friendship

This is not one of the post I intended to follow my one with, but it is related and relevant to my life at the moment.

I am in the early stages of writing my philosophy master’s thesis. I few weeks ago I got my prospectus approved on the topic of “Virtue Ethics and Harry Potter.” I am in the arduous process of rereading the books, pen in hand (or, more often, behind ear). Among the many virtues presenting themselves in the book perhaps the dominant one is friendship.

I was going to say “second only to love” but that would, in the end, undermine the entire aim of this post. For, while friendship is not uncommonly referred to while using ‘love’ it is almost always relegated to a corner: ‘friends and family,’ a boy friend belongs to an entirely different category than a boyfriend.

The mystery of friendship is simply this: a friendship is with another person. The lesser ‘friendships’ Aristotle talks about — utility and pleasure — can be had from non-persons (I am utilizing this laptop for the pleasure of listening to Mumford & Sons), while what he consider true friendship, a mutual pursuit of the good, demands another person.

This other person has no more or less value than any person in any other category (including, frankly, nemesis). To truly realize this is something, as of yet, I can only do in tiny spurts, but it is staggering to think about. How often have I, for any number of reasons, prioritized something useful (or, more often, useless) or fun over the person, the humanity, of a friend?

It was in the end of book 7 that this again made itself present (what is the statute of limitations on spoilers?). Much is made of the relationship of trust to friendship, but what is more powerful, though more subtle, is that friendship is willing to give up anything, even life itself.

I cannot hope to fully put into words this realization, this encounter. The reality of friends, the reality of persons, is such that this clutter of our lives (it is a vast and unquenchable clutter for most Americans) can only ever be a mask, hiding the other from us, letting us retreat back from the experience of something that echoes the value in ourselves. The person outvalues everything we are surrounding ourselves with, the jobs, the art, the food, the diversions, and perhaps, someday, we will be blessed enough to see that.

Justin Burgard is really bad at remembering to include his mini-bio. Those responsible for the lack of mini-bio have been sacked. 


One thought on “The Mystery of Friendship

  1. This topic can never be exhausted. God be with you as you work on it. I highly recommend a book Mr. P Fahey passed on to Karen. Loves me, Loves me not; The Ethics of Unrequited Love. I know, the writer is writing about romantic love, but when it comes right down to it, the human persons and friendship, LOVE, is what Jesus left us with. We better get busy perfecting our friendships, with, in and through Christ!

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