Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Quotes on friendship, especially political friendship

Danielle Allen describes the similarities between friendship and democracy. "Friendship is not an emotion, but a practice," she says, "a set of hard-won, complicated habits that are used to bridge trouble, difficulty, and differences of personality, experience, and aspiration." Friends have "a shared life...with common events, climates, built-environments, fixations of the imagination, and social structures." And so, too, democracy. Each of us has "an individual perspective on a set of phenomena relevant to all. Some live behind one veil, and others behind another, but the air that we all breathe carries the same gases and pollens through those veils. More important, our shared elements (events, climates, environments, imaginative fixations, economic conditions, and social structures), when considered at the political rather than the private level, are made out of the combination of all our interactions with each other." Think about the historical significance, assuming that this "shared life, recorded as history, will be the only artifact we leave behind." Recognizing this, we can embark on "political friendship." This will lead to a recognition that "a core citizenly responsibility is to prove oneself trustworthy to fellow citizens so that we are better able to ensure that we all breathe healthy air." That will necessitate a difficult self-examination: "one has to know why one is distrusted. The politics of friendship requires of citizens a capacity to attend to the dark side of the democratic soul."
[An excerpt from Danielle S. Allen, Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education. (2006). The book is available on Bookshop.]

Bob Marley said: "Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you: You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." From this, one may suppose that the ethical task may be to become one for whom others find it worthwhile to suffer, even if you occasionally or inevitably hurt them.
[Bob Marley, quoted in IBTimes.com, quoted in The Week, Oct. 28, 2016. p. 19.]"

The plague, in Albert Camus' story of that name, kills people's capacity for love and friendship. After all, he explains, that capacity "asks something of the future, and nothing was left us but a series of present moments.”
[Albert Camus, The Plague, Part Three. Translated by Stuart Gilbert (1948). New York: Vintage, 1991. p. 182.]

“How odd that we must live in the present and yet be largely judged by what is yet to be, that as our biological vitality begins to ebb we should still be expected to rise to our best. And yet just this ongoing press for spiritual fulfillment allows us at any moment to turn from continuing to live as we should not have and now, at this new moment, begin to be the self we ought always to have been. For the Transcendent makes Its claim anew at every instant and waits for us to seize the moment to make the past right and culminate our lives in faithfulness to It."
[Eugene B. Borowitz. Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew. (1991) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996. p. 94.]

"To love someone from the moment of his death: is that friendship?"
Edouard Levé, Suicide, quoted as an epigraph to Candace Jane Opper. Certain and Impossible Events. Tucson, Arizona: Kore Press, 2021.]

Perhaps not. Perhaps friendship requires more.

“Love demands infinitely less than friendship.”
[The critic George Jean Nathan, quoted in the Associated Press. Quoted in The Week. May 13, 2011. p. 19.]

"As rare as true love is, true friendship is still rarer."
[Francois de La 'Rochefoucauld, 1613-1680, quoted by Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, p 29.]

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