I am having a really hard time characterizing what is fundamental about my beliefs (my principles) regarding friends. I mean, I know that I care a lot of about who my friends are, and how I act toward them, but these are not the reasons, the principles.
Here is my first stab at the principles I think apply to how I think about friends:
- Friends respect each others’ principles even if they don’t agree with them.
- Friends are individuals capable of (and potentially good at!) teaching me about principles, from their own principles or from their experience.
- Friends deserve as much attention and energy as I give myself, if I can afford to give it and I believe they desire OR need it.
I also believe, but had a hard time putting it into a distilled principle, that I broadcast to the world that I care about my friends a great deal, and whether my friends (or others) think it’s a good idea or not to obey the 3rd principle above is not really a factor in my mind. I believe I should be giving my friends that attention and energy because I have determined they are worth it – I think they are good people.
It’s not really about increasing my own happiness (although it does make me happy to help friends) – it is about recognizing the people who are respectful (even the abrasive kind of respect – e.g. “you are better than this” with regard to childish behavior) and who are worthy teachers, and honoring them.
I also think this should be done for regular not-friend people, but I feel a stronger attachment to the people I know (and also believe I can “return the favor” to people I know more effectively). This part, about preferentially helping my friends, might be solely about happiness… I’m not sure yet.