For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked. How do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet, at the same time, remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?
∆ bell hooks, All About Love ✨
Friendship has something universal about it. It consists of loving a human being as we should like to be able to love each soul in particular of all those who go to make up the human race […] he who knows how to love directs upon a particular human being a universal love. The consent to preserve an autonomy within ourselves and in others is essentially of a universal order. As soon as we wish for this autonomy to be respected in more than just one single being we desire it for everyone, for we cease to arrange the order of the world in a circle whose centre is here below. We transport the centre of the circle beyond the heavens.
∆ Simone Weil, “Friendship” (tr. Emma Craufurd), Simone Weil: An Anthology
“Friendship is the place in which a great majority of us have our first glimpse of redemptive love and caring community. Learning to love in friendships empowers us in ways that enable us to bring this love to other interactions with family or with romantic bonds.”
Perhaps part of our challenge in thinking expansively about our friendships is that we're limited by the word friend. Like community, the word friends has come to be so broad as to have lost meaning. We can have thousands of "friends" on social media, including people we have never met and make no effort to know. Friend can describe a work aquaintance whose personal life you know nothing about otna close intimate with whom you share history and your realist self.
There are beautiful words in languages other than English that get at some of the richness and variety of friendship, like the Gaelic phrase anam cara, which literally translates as "soul friend"; or the Aramaic havruta, which means "friend" and , depending on your brand of Judaism, can mean a person with whom you study the Torah or someone with whom you can engage in education; or the Japanese nakama, which can mean "buddy" or "people who you can trust in all things." And then there is the Black American practice of applying familiar words to friends who are like family, like auntie or brother. Knowing that there are other words supports my ability to see the possibilities that were previously obscured to me even if I never use them.
"I think a lot about the acoustics of childhood friendships versus adult friendships, and how things sound as a kid – and the actual joy of play as a kid versus all the talk as an adult. Especially now, there's so much stillness in maintaining friendship. It's a matter of sitting somewhere and looking into these digital windows, since we can't go out and play."