Monday, February 22, 2010

Lewis on Friendship (Pt. I)

I recently read C.S. Lewis' Four Loves and enjoyed especially his treatment of friendship. He said so many interesting things on the topic that I thought I'd share some of them with readers of Viewpoint over the next couple of days. These should get us started:

Nothing is less like a friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to each other about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best.

Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).

The companionship on which Friendship supervenes will not often be a bodily one like hunting or fighting. It may be a common religion, common studies, a common profession, even a common recreation. All who share it will be our companions; but one or two or three who share something more will be our Friends. In this kind of love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth? - Or at least, "Do you care about the same truth?" The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer.

That is why those pathetic people who simply "want friends" can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the same truth? would be "I see nothing and I don't care about the truth; I only want a Friend," no Friendship can arise - though Affection, of course, may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and friendship must be about something.

When the two people who thus discover that they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them will very easily pass - may pass in the first half hour - into erotic love. Indeed, unless they are physically repulsive to each other, or unless one or both already loves elsewhere, it is almost certain to do so sooner or later.

I'll have more in a day or two.


Let's Bring Back Shame

Replying to the post of 2/10 titled Root Causes which discussed Heather MacDonald's article in City Journal on the correlation between crime and other dysfunctions with fatherlessness, William writes to tell us that the importance of fatherhood was known even in the days of Caesar Augustus. He writes that Augustus:

...considered it so important that men hold the responsibilities of a father that he required all bachelors and all families with less than three children to pay a hefty fine. Augustus even forced all bachelors to stand up in public, where they would be mocked by the rest of the citizens.

Augustus' concern appears to have been to shame men who were not doing enough to populate the Roman empire, but perhaps there's something here that we could borrow from the Romans. Perhaps it would be a good idea to publicly ridicule not bachelors but any man who spawns children without providing a proper home and support for them. There would need to be provision for exceptional cases, of course, but by and large, the idea of humiliating those who act in socially irresponsible ways has a certain appeal to it.

Indeed, this seems to be the impetus behind MSNBC's regular airing of their "stings" of adult men who seek out sexual liaisons with teenage girls. Maybe MSNBC could be prevailed upon to start filming, and shaming, men who sire children out of wedlock and then leave the mother to raise the offspring pretty much by herself. After all, if it's appropriate to shame men for one form of child abuse it's certainly appropriate to shame them for another.


No Place Left to Hide

Were the recent arrests of Taliban leaders in Pakistan a result of U.S. diplomacy or increasing frustration in the Pakistani government with the brutality of the Taliban? Most likely the new cooperation from Pakistan in the war on terror is a combination of both as this WaPo article suggests. Here's an excerpt:

This month's arrests represent "major progress," a U.S. intelligence official said. "No one has forgotten Pakistan's complex history with the Taliban. But they understand how important this is to the United States, the region, and to their own security."

The U.S. intelligence buildup in Karachi re-creates a level of cooperation that existed until 2004 and resulted in the arrests of senior al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan, before relations began to sour between George W. Bush's administration and the then-government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Jones, the national security adviser, visited Islamabad again last week. Significantly, he held a joint meeting with Pakistan's military and civilian leaders, who have often worked at cross purposes on both domestic and foreign policy.

Subtle signs of a shift among Pakistani officials have occurred in recent months, as the Taliban's Pakistani offshoot has unleashed a sustained campaign of suicide bombings. Pakistan's army chief, Ashfaq Kiyani, recently offered to train Afghan forces, an overture that some analysts read as a message to the Afghan Taliban that Pakistan had other options for exerting influence in Afghanistan. Some Pakistani security officials had grown concerned that the Afghan Taliban might be aiding the Pakistani franchise, said Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a professor and defense analyst.

"It helps Pakistan from a purely Pakistan perspective," he said of the Taliban arrests, "in the sense that they have also communicated a very clear message, even to the Afghan Taliban, that Pakistan can play tough with them."

"We are dependent on technical intelligence being provided by the U.S. . . . That is exactly what happened here," the ISI official said of the Baradar capture. "What is our strategic interest? Our strategic interest is that this guy is a menace, a threat, and we always thought he was in Afghanistan. When we found him in Pakistan, we arrested him. That demonstrates our sincerity."

It's unclear how long Pakistan's assistance will last, but it must have sent shudders up the backs of the Taliban, as they cast about for some refuge to escape the relentless Americans and their predator drones, to know that now they're not safe even in Karachi.