Monday, March 3, 2008

Delphic Maxims #8

Help your friends (Φιλοις βοηθει)

Everyone knows this one, in some form or another. It is the precursor to what most of us know of as, "The Golden Rule:" Do unto others that which you would have them do unto you. Help others, and they will help you, is another way of saying it. So many cliches have been created surrounding this Maxim, and others like it.

  • A friend in need is a friend in deed.
  • A good friend is cheaper than therapy
  • It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confidence of their help. (Epicurus)
  • Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more.
  • Friends can tell you things that you can't even tell yourself.
There are a thousand more quotes that I could post. Friendship is important to us, and is another of those universal things. The modern American has friends, as did the ancient Greek. Some things simply do not change.

Why is it necessary to exhort people to help their friends? To get your answer, ask anyone who's had to move out of an apartment with only a few days' notice. Only the true friend shows up with a truck and three other people, and a case of beer as bait. Fair weather "friends" don't show up even with long notice, sometimes. The real friend is the one you can turn to in the middle of the night.

Helping friends, and helping others in general, is sort of like banking. You make deposits against the time when you may need to make a large withdrawl. In between, you'll make small gains and losses, and that's normal. The reason for helping your friends is not just to get them to help you put together your wife's new cabinets, though. That's a benefit, certainly, but not the main reason.

The reason is because they are friends. Circular logic, I know, but when you love someone enough to call them a friend, that's just the reason you help them. Otherwise, they wouldn't be friends!
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