And yet, this literature still contains very little substantial thinking about the meaning of friendship. Indeed, with the understanding of friendship in IR still in its infancy, we have difficulties seeing it even when looking at it. The reason is that most thinking in IR continues to build on the liberal ontology of actors as autonomy-seeking entities and is reluctant to conceive of them as social-psychological phenomena.
Yet friendship is much more than a relationship in which disputes are settled by peaceful means.
Thinkers on the topic going back to Aristotle provide us with a rich understanding of friendship as a relationship characterised by trust, openness, honesty, acceptance, reciprocity, solidarity and loyalty Aristotle, ; Fehr, , pp. In line with the overall objective of this volume, this chapter attempts to make friendship conceptually intelligible for students and scholars of international politics.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. Friendship, Security, and Power. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Adler, E. CrossRef Google Scholar. Allan, G. Google Scholar. Arendt, H. Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics NE , transl. Irwin, 2nd edn Indianapolis, IN: Hackett. Badhwar, N. Berenskoetter, F. Bially-Mattern, J. Blau, P. Buzan, B. Weaver, and J.
Campbell, D. Chiba, S.
Connolly, W. Cooper, J. Rorty ed. Dahl, R. Deutsch, K. Fehr, B. Friedman, M. Gardner Feldman, L.
The Power of Friendship « Robert | This I Believe
Giddens, A. Guzzini, S. Harris, P. Hobson, J. Hutter, H. Like calories, friendships keep us warm, and serve as a badge of normality. Lending an ear is essential in mainline friendships, and less disruptive than lending money. Introductory contretemps and flummoxing incongruities require a chum or two to face, until, becoming more hidebound in middle age, we tend to run out of or withhold the sort of intensity best-friendship demands. Some involve people who will never be as useful to us as vice versa, even for the ego boost of comic relief.
Our earliest friendships are coed, then imprecisely homoerotic, as we reach the age at which tribal peoples form cadres of hunter-warriors to protect and feed the clan, then homophobic for the sake of family life, and at last relaxed and coed again. My strait-laced mother once said only men and women attracted to each other could really be friends.
Perhaps the carnal add-on caused me not to include Nell, Liz, Amy, Brigit, Leonore, Marion, Linda, or Trudy on my initial list of best friends, although they were actually better intrinsically than the males: wholehearted, primal, reproductive— knowing, seeing, giving everything. It takes a best friend to tip you off that the cure for blue balls is to go out to your car and lift the back bumper a few times. Call a fellow vinyl collector, card player, Little League coach. Is it silly to inquire? How our words waft from tongue to eardrum is not a riddle of acoustic science, but what accounts for the electricity of humor and sympathy, the flaring of angry laughter, the filling of tear ducts—all those flickering nuances that precede any riposte in the most humdrum of conversations?
How, though, do neurons of the eye and ear, in practically a flash, stir what we call the heart? Love for mate, offspring, parents seems as natural as leaves sprouting; how else could humans have survived? Yet the luxuriance of love continues where no lust for self-replication is involved, no guardianship of clan. We yearn for anchorage—even the businessman flying back from Singapore with his blond trophy wife beside him and a place in the Catskills they seldom clear a week to visit.
Rehashing bewilderment at jobs expunged, phone calls unreturned, is not for the barbecue pit or tennis court. In adulthood, friendships originate adventitiously: at the water cooler or neighborhood association.
My closest in old age began when a pizza counterman made fun of my stutter and I returned out of curiosity to see why he would. It turned out that he needed affection so badly, he felt compelled to outrage strangers to test their loyalty; after testing mine, he became wonderfully generous, recounting dozens of typewriter-ready stories I could make use of, from war lore to which of the ladies in the Laundromat had turned tricks he said in her youth.
He protected my house from robbery or vandalism during hunting season, while mending relations with his children, estranged to various degrees, rehearsing with me his explanations to them beforehand. His fireman father had thrown his mother down the cellar stairs, so although he was Irish, a local Jersey mafia don adopted him as a mascot for landscaping or driving hijacked trucks from Point A to Point B. In reparative interludes we made friends—the verb is kinetic—till the pistol he carried no longer tempted him toward Russian roulette.
We need roommates to get through college and afterward somebody to leave our keys and goldfish with. Friends may indulge us a little because they know our soft spots—the son in limbo after a meth arrest, the mortgage underwater, the trial separation, the cancer scare. Gossipmongers, by contrast, are permitted in polite society because they furnish narratives of indignity where but for the grace of God go I.
A current flows, impulses are telegraphed, a flutter of distress crimps the mouth even before we know why.
By middle age, our countenances contain a toolkit of engraved expressions, from deadpan stoicism to blithe equanimity. At weddings, funerals, we sit in the pew, while, as on a much-plowed family farm, the grooves to accommodate whatever is tossed at us lie in our faces already.
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Friendship is protean. Yet loneliness peeps over the horizon for most of us eventually. Recently, in my late 70s, I was crossing Sixth Avenue at 51st Street in New York, with a briefcase slung from one shoulder and an overnight bag on the other, when a matronly, metropolitan woman paused on the busy sidewalk to touch my elbow and help guide my feet over the curb.
Her wide cheeks and savvily inviting, sympathetic expression were familiar as my favorite Upper West Side type from a year marriage to a slimmer version. From your bank? Like many codgers, too, I eschew the anonymity of ATM machines for an excuse to chat up young female bank tellers inside. Although wobbly, I was sporting a red Irish knit sweater, a green fedora, black corduroys, and a leather jacket from Milan—not entirely uncool. Except she kept glancing over my shoulder, which reminded me that pickpockets work in pairs, or that a cop on the corner might have noticed her.
Where is it? She was like the clairvoyant sitting in a storefront window in lower Manhattan, dangling one sandaled foot from underneath a flowered skirt draped over crossed knees, holding the wisdom of her hands out toward you. I was reluctant to break off. My Yiddish-speaking wife with wide cheekbones and fishnet stockings had exercised a similar magnetism.
We want to pour out our hearts to them. We need confidants—attention must be paid—and generally reciprocate with a core of friends whose own balance of good fortune with misfortune we can keep track of. Equanimity is at first a bore, then a blessing. Most of us sculpt the modest proportions of our lives, eventually becoming responsible for them. We nod perfunctorily at rafts of people who have no purchase in our minds. Are they more than treading water?
Do they ferret out flint arrowheads or keep a telescope, maintain an heirloom orchard or go to nascar tracks? Friends change venue, blow hot or cold, but we must unburden ourselves, if only in a bar, touching base on the fly. Offloading grievances or grief is like conscripting an extra pair of arms to lift a sack of stones. Hermits did not fare well.
One can fathom how vulnerable our Paleolithic ancestors must have felt if not part of a band. Without friends, how would we have known which valley the caribou were wintering in or which kopje a leopardess had chosen for her den in the spring? We came to trust in the validity of telepathic promptings without wishing to peel back the anatomy of the riddle, as if that might possibly queer the deal.
And we triage or triangulate them accordingly into good-news guys, bad-news guys, and others whose experiences somehow parallel ours. Intimates can be like money in the bank or names to drop, tipsters or bosom buddies of the sort you spout off to as a test audience before making a fool of yourself in front of a less charitable crowd. A caring soul to unstopper our disappointments with—childhood and evolution have seeded that yearning or throwback imperative in us.
These intensities of glee and trust we tire of a bit in passing middle age, and presume our friends know enough about us without Sturm und Drang or rehashing their own headlong career detours and marital mishaps, true blue through thick and thin. The pep of a smile is communicable, and a reliable temper will serve for a flood of words, particularly at a kitchen table, with mugs of the milk of human kindness served.
Life is potentially centrifugal; what we want is an anchor chain.
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