It is an anxious and brutal experience, moving from a small country community to a city. Spare a thought for students from the country who are starting University this week. I well remember the total of 42 hours that I spent on trains, moving from Townsville to Canberra for University.
The constellation of relationships that has helped to locate you within the world, and really gave you your sense of yourself, is suddenly gone.
I’ve been slowly rambling along behind the thought that it seems that the loss of the ‘neighbourhood’ raises the stakes for our other relationships. More of the particularising force that makes me conscious of being uniquely me, must be carried along fewer lines of communication.
Importantly, it can affect our conception of friendship. In some ways I’m tempted to say that we are lead to make our friendships too important. However, while you raise that questioning eyebrow, let me continue by saying that, of course, friendship can never be too important.
No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
That sounds pretty important.
Maybe the problem is more that we are tempted to see friendship as necessary. It feels so necessary when everything else conspires to make you doubt your own reality. It seems necessary because there doesn’t appear to be anything else that holds us together, and if there is nothing left that holds us together, there is nothing to hold me together.
And probably friendship wants to be necessary because it is good, and wouldn’t it be good for goodness to be necessary?
But friendship can’t be necessary without ceasing to be friendship. Friendship is essentially free.
Let me swallow-dive off a cliff and claim that on this site, the philosophical dualism between freedom and determinism is thrashing about. If you can’t see it, it’s probably not really late at night where you are.
But there’s more! Maybe through exploring friendship, we might develop the conceptual tools for a robust account of the nature of freedom. There might be a sense, not only in which Friendship is free, but also in which, Freedom is friendship.
I keep thinking of new questions, please don’t take that as any kind of warrant that I will think of answers.