What Constitutes Friendship?

In one of the New York daily newspapers there recently appeared an editorial concerning "the harm that is done by our friends." The editor has taken as his text a quotation from an Italian writer, who several centuries ago declared: "Man is commanded to forgive his enemies. Nowhere is imposed on him the far more difficult task of forgiving his friends."

In developing his theme the editor has made some statements which accord in some degree with the teachings of Christian Science, more especially as follows: "How little your enemies can hurt you! How little harm they do, even when they try! You are warned against them and on your guard. The world knows they are your enemies, and discredits what they say. It is quite easy to forgive our enemies, for they do us comparatively little harm; but to forgive our friends would be hard indeed if we could realize how much harm they do us." In these words the writer shows that he has held to "the street" definition of the term friend, for he illustrates these sentences by popular examples which show that the drunkard is dragged down and the ambitious young man is prevented from attaining success by his so-called friends.

From the standpoint of Christian Science neither the enemies nor the friends in such cases are persons, though persons may seem to manifest friendship or enmity. In the article "Love Your Enemies" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 8) Mrs. Eddy queries, "Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception?" The word friend as applied by the writer quoted can be substituted for enemy with equal propriety. Each is a mental concept manifested more or less by persons. Nothing could be more succinctly stated concerning the true concept of enemy than Mrs. Eddy has declared on the page above referred to: Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect. Whatever purifies, sanctifies, and consecrates human life, is not an enemy, however much we suffer in the process." These sentences may with equal propriety be recast to state the true idea of friendship, thus: Whatever purifies, sanctifies, and consecrates human life, is a friend, however much we may suffer in the process.

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The Calendar of Mind
May 23, 1914

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