Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together
8th October 2020
‘Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together’. (Woodrow Wilson 1856- 24)
Friendship was considered the highest of virtues by the philosopher Aristotle. I am sure therefore he would have agreed with Woodrow Wilson’s (28th president of the USA) sentiment that is was the very thing that could hold the world together.
However not all friendships are of equal value or quality. Infact Aristotle distinguished between three types of friendships.
First of all there are friendships of ‘utility’. In this kind of friendship, the two individuals are not in it for the affection of one another, but because they can help each-other with a particular task, such as working on a school project or working in a team to achieve a particular target. Each helps the other to a mutual benefit. It’s not permanent in nature, and whenever the benefit ends, so might the relationship that brought the ‘friends’ together.
The second kind of friendship is one based on pleasure. It’s usually based on a common interest or things people enjoy together such as playing a sport, liking the same music or simply finding pleasure from the same things. Once that enjoyment or interest changes however, the friendship is unlikely to last.
According to Aristotle most of the friendships that many of us have fall into these two categories, and while Aristotle didn’t necessarily see them as bad, he did feel that their depth limited their quality.
The final form of friendship that Aristotle outlined is the most preferable out of the three. It is the friendship of the ‘Good’ and it’s this type of friendship that forms the ‘cement’ that has the potential to hold both our personal world and the wider world together.
Rather than utility or pleasure, this kind of friendship is based on a liking of an individual for themselves ‘warts and all’! Infact it is the ability to be open and vulnerable to eachother that makes such friendships so special and rather than being short-lived, these friendships last. These are the people whom we can turn to in times of trouble as well as times of celebration and who will also feel able to turn to us. Of course such friendships are the most precious. They also take time and trust to build and are about commitment. In reality therefore they will be numbered at the most, on one hand.
At this time in the term as the girls are still forming, negotiating and sometimes breaking friendships we do well to reflect on this most important virtue which contrasts with the hastily gathered ‘friends’ on social network. Such ‘friendships’ often require little more than a click of a button to be secured and all too frequently can be as hastily withdrawn. Friends are made over time with commitment and will form the cement that holds not only the world together but ourselves.