Let’s ponder itWhat is friendship? [Archives:2005/831/Culture]

April 7 2005

By Mohammed Y. al-Sofi
For The Yemen Times

As the humanity develops, and becomes more dominated by materialism, the meanings of spiritual values are often tangled. People of today are no longer keeping the morals of the people of yesterday.

Of these spiritual human relations that have been negatively affected is “friendship”. This sacred relationship is misinterpreted in this age. When we ask someone answers about the meaning of friendship, one often hears pragmatically defined relations and material interests that have nothing to do with the real meaning of word.

A friend is like a spoon to eat with, a book to get knowledge from, a ladder to be used for ascending higher steps or a symbol of showing some social skills. Many people wonder why a person has great number of friends even though they are poor, and no benefit will be obtained from them. Unfortunately, a friend is often described as a tool you can buy in a shop.

Often you will find someone is flattering you in order to get something from you or to show how sociable and friendly they are.

'The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile… it's the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship.' And as Aristotle said, “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

'We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over.' It is not easy to find a friend and not any one can find it, on the contrary, 'Who finds a faithful friend finds a treasure.' That friend is not available wherever you go for it is the greatest gift that 'is not found in a store nor under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends.'

Some philosophers say, “Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.” Therefore a friend is not kept for a week or month, a year or two, but a friend is kept forever. A sincere friend says:

Don't walk in front of me,

I may not follow.

Don't walk behind me,

I may not lead.

Just walk beside me

and be my friend.

Friends look for the good for their friend before looking for themselves. Human history is full of examples: the story of the seven friends who died of thirst while they were passing the cup of water between them, each one preferred his friend to drink first. There are many friends who sacrificed their life for protecting their friends from dangers.

Here is a fantastic poem of friendship by Wordsworth:

“I shot an arrow into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For so swiftly it flew, the sight

Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For, who has sight so keen and strong

That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak

I found the arrow, still unbroke;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.”