Second Week in September
Friends are as friends do. Being a friend is not as simple as saying, “we’re friends.” Friendship is, unromantically, a system of conduct engaged in by two or more people that is bound only by social contracts. The conduct, happily, consists of listening, sharing, confiding, helping, considering, trusting one another, and enjoying common things. The social contract is difficult to convey, but it ought to be considered by each of us who claims to have and be friends.
We can turn to the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated) for some guidance, but friends are the favored others, not just others. With friends the social contract says we have to work a little harder; we have to do right by them; we have to overcome our desire for peace and ease where friendship is concerned. What is so wonderful about friends, though, is that fulfilling the social contract is wholesome.
In times of shame and confusion we may want to be treated to solitude. But a friend helps us through such times because they trust that we’ll be better for it. We may feel that it is an imposition on our friends to cry and shake with sadness or rage, but friends can be trusted to handle it.
In turn, as a friend, you stand up for your friends, even in the unpleasant instance that you have to stand up to them on their behalf. In frienships of longstanding, friendship can occassionally be a trial. But when you have friends, it is important to honor that contract; they depend on you and you depend on them. Nothing binds you together as friends except for the conduct of friendship and the contract you keep.