To all the friends I have loved and will have loved…
I. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER
What kind of friend are you?
II. MUTUAL LOVE OVER MUTUAL DEALINGS
Defining love of friendship
III. HALF OF OUR SOUL
Common life shared by friends
V. HANDLING BETRAYALS
Loyalty and fidelity
VI. SHOWBIZ, POLITICS & BUSINESS
Is love of friendship possible here?
VII. COURTSHIP, MARRIAGE & FAMILY LIFE
Does friendship play a role?
VIII. WANTING THE BEST FOR YOUR FRIEND
The role of spiritual direction
IX. NO GREATER LOVE
Beyond love of friendship
LOVE SWEET LOVE. That’s what the world needs now, as the famous song goes.
This book specifies further what sort of love the world needs now. Love of friendship. How is it different from mere friendship? Why further qualify it into love of friendship?
I have to admit that I had to revise the ordering of the contents of this book several times, including this introduction. I brought it with me here in Princeton, as I attend a summer course, without realizing that my experience here would further enrich my study, and thereby merit the further revision of this introduction. Let me cite two examples among many.
When one of my classmates in the summer course found out that I am from the Philippines, her face suddenly lit up saying she has Filipino friends. Of course I was delighted to hear that and asked her where they met. With a little hesitation, she said, “in Facebook!” Then she related to me stories of her friendships with these people she never met in person—what I thought one would only know were the dealings were more personal, face-to-face. Is this type of friendship for real?
Just this afternoon, I had a long chat with a friend who migrated to the United States some years ago, almost at the same time when I was in Boston for my masters thesis. We made efforts to meet in person but he resides in the West Coast and I am here in the East. Thanks to Viber, we were able to chat and “see” each other (and thought, why did we not discover this means of communication earlier?). We used to chat about what matters most in life, things you won’t talk about over the dining table or in a get-together with other friends. We have not been able to do so for years, but when we spoke again today, it felt like our last chat was just last week. We spoke about the same things we used to speak about before, with all its depth and intimacy. I had no doubts that this is real friendship.
The pages of this book attempt to unravel what true friendship is really all about. I used to have doubts on the existence of real friendship in the first example. But more and more, I realize that people in so-called “virtual friendships” are real friends. I cannot totally discount the presence of a relationship, which may be virtual but real—albeit nuanced—and the possibility of the blossoming of friendship in it. However, I will not call the relationship, “love of friendship”. The whole book takes up the case for the latter and its distinction from “mere friendship”.
The main reason for the re-ordering of the contents of this book to its present form is the author’s desire to reach ordinary people, not just academics. At one point, I realize that the outline I made for the book looked like an academic thesis. I recently reviewed a thesis-turned-into-a-book, which was very informative yet not-that-readable. When I told him about my observation, the author admitted that it was meant more as a reference material than a popular one—in the sense of making it readable to the ordinary reader, not a specialist. I think there are proper occasions for that and this book is not one of them. As the dedication page reads, it is written in honor of “friends I have loved”. And they are not all academics. They can be as old as my dad, and as young as my nephews and nieces.
But does that dedication not make you cringe from your seat? Isn’t it too cheesy?
A bit of explanation may help. While I believe that love of friendship is what the world truly needs now—or there is no point writing a book with the such a title—I did not quite want to use the adjective “sweet” in describing such love. I just thought, at first glance, that it was inappropriate or to say the least, inapplicable to love of friendship, especially between two men.
Then arose the controversy surrounding the exhumation of the remains of John Henry Cardinal Newman on the occasion of his Beatification in 2010 (this may give you an idea of how long I have been writing this on my mind). Unknown to many, he was buried in the same tomb as his best friend, Ambrose of St. John. And that was no coincidence. He made it part of his last will and testament—and made it clear without any shadow of doubt before his own death.
What’s so strange about that? Nothing really. Both intellectuals were key movers of the Oxford Movement and lived together for at least two decades, until the untimely death of Ambrose. However, some sectors of the English society, the so-called gay activists, made a big issue out of it claiming that the new Blessed was gay, and that his reburial is an attempt to cover up his homosexuality and to ‘disavow’ his love for Ambrose.
Ironically, it was such controversy that made me understand that the adjective sweet can properly qualify love of friendship, not essentially perhaps, but definitely not improper and never inappropriate, as I initially thought.
In dedicating his famous work, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Newman singled out Ambrose, describing him as someone “God gave me, when He took everyone else away” among his brothers at the Oratory he founded “who are the link between my old life and my new; who have now for 21 years been so devoted to me, so patient, so zealous, so tender.” The dedication brought so much delight to George Eliot describing such brotherly love as “sweet”.
Then suddenly, great stories of friendships that have impressed me all these years began to pop into my head. Have I not known St. Augustine’s unspeakable sorrow over the death of his friend whose relationship he described as “sweeter to me than any sweetness I had known in all my life”? His world seemed to have turned upside down and started to hate “all things because they held him not”. And John, the beloved apostle, who rested his head on Jesus’ chest? And that beautiful eulogy of King David on the sudden death of his great friend, Jonathan, and whose love for him he described as greater than that of a woman? And as a student of law I have to include the great lawyer and statesman, Thomas More, the first layman Lord Chancellor of England, who wrote his friend Peter Giles, after greeting the latter’s wife, “Love me as you always have; I am more fond of you than I have ever been.” These people are far from being homosexuals.
But I never connected the dots until then, including the dots of my personal experience of the sweetness and beauty of true, solid and manly friendships. And the whole edifice of love of friendship that I have been contemplating for more than two decades now started to fall into place.
Might it not be that one reason to the growing crisis in social and personal relationships that many people experience nowadays stems from a crisis of friendship, of love of friendship? And that we have allowed the beauty of such relationship to be stained by colors that blur its lustre, and thereby its inherent attractiveness? Hence, attenuating or suppressing our natural tendency in forging such relationships, leaving us dull and stunted and unable to blossom in our humanitas? [nb: humanitas: human fluorishing]
I do not speak about the current frenzy of “making friends” and “accumulating friends” as if they were posters or trinkets for display. There seems to be too much “friend-making” activity nowadays in social media but too little friendship, not to say of love of friendship; too much social life but too little common life among friends; too much glee doing things together but too little joy just being together… too much fun but too little happiness.
That is what this book aims to rediscover. Rediscovery is a carefully-used word to describe this work. Because love of friendship has been known and lived by men and women in the whole history of humanity. It may not have been talked about in recent years, but it has definitely survived in the personal experiences of those who know what and how it means to love their friends, really and truly, not without sacrifice. You may call anyone you have good relations with a friend, but there is friendship that is deeper still. And we call that “love of friendship.”
Let’s journey in rediscovering it, together.
Scully Hall, Princeton University
The date and place of the original introduction were kept, as it was written and completed as indicated, although the book was published much later on.
Oliver is the President and former Chief Executive Officer of Universitas. He was the immediate past Executive Director of Charis Foundation, and prior to that, of the University Center Foundation. He was a faculty member at the Institute of Biology, College of Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman, where he was an outstanding graduate awardee for his masters in microbiology. He read law at the UST Faculty of Civil Law, where he graduated cum and passed the subsequent bar examination. He is currently an Associate at the Kalaw Sy Selva & Campos law firm located at the Philippine Stock Exchange Building, Ortigas business district. He was a finalist of the search for the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) and a fellow of the Philippine Young Leaders in Governance (PYLG) of the United Nations Development Program with Galing Pook Foundation. He has written a couple of books touching upon nation building and dialogues with young people, and co-authored a leadership manual. His book on friendship took him more than a decade to write, since he thought that it was better to live first what he wanted to write down.
Oliver has previously written a chapter on friendship entitled “Face-to-face book” in the book, No Holds Barred: Questions Young People Ask which can be accessed through the following link: https://www.amazon.com/No-Holds-Barred-Oliver-Tuazon-ebook/dp/B008JFMK0G