To My Good Friend!

     The great sage of the past century once expressed a desire: “If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” Winnie the Pooh’s sentiment conveys the kind of love that existed between David and his friend, Jonathan. The prevailing wisdom is that friendships come and go. Distance, expectations, and new friends are factors that can change the dynamics of a relationship.
     The closing chapters of First Samuel describe an unusually intimate rapport between David and Jonathan. Many factors could have precluded their connection. Jonathan’s father, Saul, was chief among them. Saul hated David. In the case of Saul and Jonathan’s father-son bond, blood was not thicker than water. Jonathan’s feelings for David rivaled the love between two brothers. Nothing could separate the two.
     This type of friendship is unusual in our day. Many friendships are based on mutual usefulness (what we can do for one another) or pleasure (how good we make each other feel). However, Aristotle identified a third and more durable form of friendship based on goodness. Aristotle believed that only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness is sustainable. Moreover, good friends desire the best for their friends and for their friend’s sake.
Of course, no friend is perfect. Hence, no friendship is perfect. And yet, Bernard Meltzer claims, “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
     David and Jonathan were good friends. Neither man was perfect. But together they made each other better people. They looked for and brought out the best in one another.
     Personally, I like having lots of friends. However, I also am mindful that there is a distinction between friendships based on comradery and a friendship based on goodness. Both types of relationships are necessary and healthy. Yet only a good friend can help me remain accountable to the values, virtues, and beliefs I hold dear.
     So, to all my friends, I raise my glass and offer my cheer. To my good friend, I pray I may never know a day without you.