Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One Chimpanzee Cannot Be a Chimpanzee

In Harold Kushner's "Living a Life that Matters: Resolving the Conflict Between Conscience and Success" I found a heartening description of friendship, and I offer it to those who are my friends and to whom I might learn to be a friend. Starting on p. 119.

"Friendships are a key to survival in an unfriendly world,...a way for us to be recognized as unique people, to be reassured that we are appreciated for who we are. One step less intense than marriage or parenthood, genuine friendships are a mirror reflecting back to us a flattering image of ourselves. The fact that they are voluntary, easier to enter or leave than family, marriage, or professional relationships, reassures us that people remain our friends because they genuinelly like us, even when we have hurt or disapointed us. It has been said, 'When a friend makes a mistake, the mistake remains a mistake, but the friend is still a friend.' And friendships are a way of being important in another person's life, knowing that someone we like and care about is happier, more secure, and more likely to make right choices because of us.. As Patricia O'Brien said of her friend, 'she needed me, which is no small thing.' "

Why the chimpanzee title? An anthropologist who studied this species said that a chimp needs other chimps in order to become what it was meant to be. Kushner: "We need other people, and we need to be neede by other people, in order to be who we might be, who we yearn to be."


Meredith Gould said...

What I treasure about my true friends is our ability to withstand separations of time and space.

I've recently reconnected with friends with whom I attended high school 40+ years ago. We managed to zip through the history and get to present time very quickly -- what a treat.

Barbara Figge Fox said...

Re Meredith's comment, yes, that is the heartening conclusion I come to, when I manage to return to friends I made 35 years ago. It's as if I never left. But that time period -- in my 30s -- is special that way. I'm not sure it works for friends I had in my 20s and 40s....