In friendship an ‘openness’ of each to the other is found that can be seen as an enlargement of the self. A good friendly person is related to his friend the same way he is related to himself. He / She considers the friend as another “self” or extension of “self”. Friendship therefore opens the door to an escape from “egoism” or “belief” that the rational course of action is always to pursue one’s own self-interest. It is notable that friendship requires sentiments. Sentimentality is not always rational – but forms an essential foundation of friendship. It is a purely personal matter, requiring virtue, yet which runs counter to the universalistic requirement of impartial treatment of all. Friend is someone who is treated differently from all others always. An outstanding example for this is found in Mahabharatha – the friendship between Karna & Duryodhana!
Values that are found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following traits on a consistent basis:
- The tendency to desire what is best for the other!
- Sympathy & Empathy!
- Honesty – perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth – especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart.
- Mutual understanding!
- Mutual compassion!
One problem is to reconcile these apparently diverse and occasionally conflicting requirements. Mishandling this may cause either temporary or lasting strain in relationships. But one irrefutable element in friendship is – you can talk “neutral nonsense” freely – without the fear of being seriously judged. It gives lot of freedom to be occasionally stupid – which is a release from stress! Friendship is easier to repair when spoiled, than all other relationships, as forgiveness is in-built into it.
What is selfishness? We tend to use this word very loosely. If some one desires something strongly and acquires it – which he is not prepared to share easily with others – we immediately tend to call him selfish. Is that actually selfishness? Working for wealth, larger income, greater comforts, additional possessions, sound financial security, stability in life, self preservation, emotional security, better education for children, better family welfare, more pleasures in life etc …. None of them can be classified as selfishness! They are all simple mechanisms of enhancing one’s own survival potential against the possible future challenges in life.
Some people argue that selfishness is the basic drive behind all human actions – that there is a selfish motive behind every simple action of a human – be it in friendship, marriage or even worship of God. Even falling in love has a selfish motive. A mother’s or parental love has hidden selfish motive to get back something in future from their children. All these arguments betray nothing but ignorance. Self preservation and self enhancement can never be called selfishness – as that is the basic instinct – the absence of which can be called unnatural. Ambitions and aims of life can never be classified as selfishness – as that is the purpose of life. Then what is selfishness?