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Friendship – for better and for worse?

Alexandre Dumas’ characters D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis from The Three Musketeers became inseparable friends living under the motto “all for one, one for all”.  Although taken from the 17th century, the novel illustrates how a true friend walks next to you through difficult times no matter what. Yet, we often hear statements of how true friends are hard to find. Could it be that we are selfish and it’s all about what’s in it for me rather than being what it takes to be a true friend?  - ‘For better or for worse’ – Does this apply to friendship?  

If it is true that treasured friends are difficult to find it implies that being a friend is not always easy and could come at a cost. The ‘For better’ is certainly not the difficult part but rather when “for worse” comes into play. This is when the trueness to the friendship is tested. A true friend is there regardless of an event or situation that alters ones current environment or lifestyle, whether one finds ones self in jail, in hospital or suddenly broke. A true friend lets us feel safe and accepted in ones vulnerability. A friendship is not always constant, it comes with discomfort; it means that because you are a true friend you stick around through the difficult and awkward situations as well as the good times. As a friend you accept and don’t think of it as uncomfortable or as a sacrifice. 

I wonder whether in today’s time the importance of friendship has become subordinated to other priorities. Could it be that we don’t know how to be friends anymore but rather one seeks popularity instead? Is being popular to some more important than having one real good friend? Sadly this seems to be a trend, some are willing to betray years of friendship in return for (keeping) their popularity and social status. A friend in greed – a friend in deed it seems. 

Part of being a true friend is honesty and transparency.  A friend has earned the right to be real and truthful; friends may criticize each other, have an opinion or disagree with each other’s choices or life decisions – it won’t end a true friendship. We all exist in our lives and our friends compliment our lives by adding value through the friendship.  One does not always have to agree with everything to remain a friend.  Weighing up a friendship against other factors like career, popularity, how a decision taken impacts us or social status would be the same as asking “what’s in it for me” - making friendship a tradable asset. Is there such a thing as a mighty friendship?

Friendship and greed is a mismatch and the word “cost” does not belong next to the word “friendship”. A friendship cannot be evaluated as if it was an asset that we might or might not want to possess. Friendship is based on loyalty and loyalty requires honesty and integrity. Friendship – like marriage – requires work and at times courage. In many cases, this is misunderstood, sadly because many confuse friendship with popularity or the right to dictate how a friend should behave or live. ‘For better or for worse’ - May we all trust and hope that we are lucky to have friends like d’Artagnan had. 

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