- The importance of friendship.
- Good friends are rare.
- It is difficult to define “a good friend.”
- A good friend is sincere.
- He is accommodating; we feel easy in his company.
- He criticises us in a friendly way to our face.
- He is sympathetic and helpful.
- He is unselfish.
- He is generous in quarrels.
Friendship is a wonderful experience. A person without friends is an unfortunate being. All of us need friends to console us when we are unhappy, to cheer up when we are depressed, to help us when we are in need and to be with us when we are happy. The joys of friendship are many. With a small set of good friends around, one feels at home in this world. A friendless person is always lonely and sad. He cannot see much meaning in the life around him. It may be said that friendship is even better than love. And it is more difficult too.
When we are young we consider anybody we know as our friend. We are not very strict about the use of the term. With years the number of friends decreases. We become cautious. We begin to Have certain ideas about friendship. Just anybody cannot be our friend. We want ‘good friends.
Who is a ‘good’ friend? Does it mean that he should have no fault? Does it mean that he should be a good man? What are the qualities of a good friend? It seems to me that the expression ‘A Good Friend’ is a relative term. A friend who is ”good’ for me may not be good for you. Very often it happens that we cannot tolerate one another’s friends. I say to my friend, “How on earth can you be so intimate with so-and-so? This means that we may not agree upon the qualities which will entitle a man to be good’. Certainly, the task of defining a good friend is very difficult.
But we will not attempt a definition. All we shall do is to mention those qualities which are, perhaps, common to all friends. As we have said above we are rather strict in the use of the term friend. In our sense, anybody we know need not be a friend.
The first quality that we look for in a friend is sincerity. He should not be a hypocrite. We should know what he thinks and feels. Unless we see him as he is we.can never be friends with him. Between friends, they say, there are no secrets. This is very true. We cannot develop a lasting friendship with any one whom we do not know. It is very difficult to know anybody. It may be objected. In the ultimatee sense it is. What we want to say is that a hypocrite can never be a eod. A friend does not wear a false smile. He does not hide his real feelings from you. He tells you what he is. He wants to know what you are.
This leads us to another important point about friendship. A good friend is one with whom you can be at ease. You can be your Natural self with him. It does not matter if he comes to see your faults. Everybody has faults. The point lies in accommodating a friend’s faults. You know that your friend knows your faults but you do not feel uneasy or ashamed of yourself in his presence. You know his faults but he does not feel awkward in your presence. You don’t have to put on a mask and he doesn’t have to put on one himself. This is one very sound test of friendship. When this is missing it means that friendship is not complete.
And this does not come in a day. It takes time to know a person. It takes time to show oneself to a person. In the infancy of your association with a person we put on our best behaviour. We naturally try to hide our failings and weaknesses. But as we come in closer contact we open out. Most friendships do not go beyond this first stage. It is only after you have passed this stage that you become friends with anyone.
Having passed this stage the knowledge of each other’s faults does no harm to friendship. A good friend’s attitude to these is that of toleration. If he criticises he does so in a friendly manner. Such criticism is welcome. It proceeds from love. It is wrong to imagine that friends never criticise one another. They do and they should. Since this criticism is not hostile it gives no offence. It is rightly said that a friend criticises you to your face whereas an enemy criticises you behind your back.
A good friend is sympathetic to you in every thing. He is interested in your welfare and happiness. He does his best to help you wherever he can. You don’t have to ask him for help. But if he does not know of your difficulties you feel no hitch in telling him. Friendship flourishes on mutual trust. When that is missing there is something wrong with friendship. A good friend is prepared to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of his friend. There are many historic examples of such friendships. Perhaps they are somewhat exaggerated. But they are based on truth. A selfish man can never be a good friend. In friendship as in love, you give. You don’t withhold. K you do so you are not a good friend.
There is a common notion that there are no quarrels among real friends. This is wrong. There are quarrels even among good friends. But these quarrels are not always the end of friendship. They should not be too frequent. Then it becomes a habit. Occasionally, however, quarrels are inevitable even among the best of friends. A good friend’s attitude to these quarrels is generous. He does not lose his faith in his friend’s integrity.
Sometimes there are serious misunderstandings among friends. A good friend does not nurse these misunderstandings. He tries to remove them through a frank discussion. Sometimes we realise that our friend is our foe. It gives us pain. But such mistakes are not natural. Our estimate of a person’s sincerity and character may not be correct. In such cases it is best to part ways with grace.
It is not necessary that a good friend must be good to everybody. We have our likes and dislikes. With persons we like we į behave in one way. With persons we dislike we behave differently. It is too much to expect of a friend to be friendly to all our other friends. In such cases it is best to put one’s friends in separate groups and avoid awkward situations.
Borrowing, it is believed, is ruinous to friendship. It is perhaps true. But can one avoid borrowing from a friend if one is in need? A friend in need is a friend indeed. A good friend lends willingly when he can do so. He does not bother you later on. Loans from him do not sit heavily on your conscience. But it does not mean that you are not particular about paying back those loans.
The essence of the matter is that friendship is in some ways very much similar to it sometimes painful but there is pleasure in that pain. It is a spiritual relationship. The harmony we find between two friends is spiritual harmony. It is often seen that two real friends can spend in each others company without being bored. May be that a major part of these hours is spent in silence. This silence is not uncomfortable because there is an inner link which keeps the two together. Happiness lies in getting together. A good friend is, in short, a rare possession and one must thank God if one gets a really good friend.