Friendships should not be based on shared systems of belief.
In many cases, we become friends with other people because we share congruent values and hold similar convictions. We fall into relationships of this kind with an unconscious ease.
We’re drawn by the comfort of familiar axioms, seduced by the assuredness of confirming evidence.
Although the leisure afforded by a relationship rooted in shared belief feels like good fortune, the initial convenience makes the bond susceptible to atrophy. The eventual heartbreak proves the foundation of the union false.
Good friendships should be built on loyalty. As two people form a friendship, a growing trust must be fostered between them. This trust cannot be built on the notion that each participant will unwaveringly support the other’s principles, perceptions, or preconceived ideas.
Rather, mutual trust must be based on the backing of one another without regard to beliefs held by either, sturdy or shifting as they might be.
How can we trust a friend if their allegiance alters when we come to a differing conclusion, be it religious, political, or otherwise? How can we call ourselves a friend when we disengage from another as their worldview alters over the course of time?
To be a friend means to remain loyal to the person—mind, body, and heart—not the stories they tell themselves or the values they cling to.
Friendships must be enjoyed. Beliefs, whether shared or not, can only be enjoyed so much.
I may find pleasure in believing that beer is good, but I find greater pleasure in imbibing in the substance itself—greater pleasure still when drinking beer with a friend. Two friends sharing an experience together will always trump two friends sharing a tenet or principle.
Are the bonds of friendship strengthened more during the roar of a political rally or whilst the bonfire crackles over a shared moment in time? Is the height of marriage found in an agreed upon vow or the passion of lovemaking?
Authentic friendships are forged in grittiness of shared experience, not in the eloquence of mutual theorizing.
Friendships must be open and expectant. In order to start, develop, and maintain a friendship, one must continually take on a free and eager attitude.
Beliefs, on the other hand, act as stakes in the ground. There’s little room for uncertainty or expectation when discussing convictions.
Beliefs may work fine and dandy for theology, ideology, biology, or any other ology we come up with. But, friends are another matter.
People have a (sometimes irksome) tendency to change and grow. Five years from now your closest friend might be an almost entirely different person. The things you believe today about your friend might not be very true at all in the near future.
Likewise, the values you share together now may not line up in quite the same way sometime down the line.
Must you make certain to match each other’s personal convictions in an effort towards the goal of undying friendship?
Of course not.
No need to perform the mental gymnastics necessary to keep two separate people’s values in union. Just commit to one another.
Commit to the exciting ride of both of your journeys. Give in to the fluidity of human life. Keep your beliefs in their own category. They weren’t meant to be cast aside to appease another soul anyways.
Does this sound like a flimsy way to go about your life?
You argue that a critical component of loyalty is trust. How can one trust another if that other’s principles cannot be trusted, if they are here today and thrown out with the trash tomorrow? You make a valid point. Nevertheless, you’re still operating on the surface.
Deciding who your friends are based on their principles means choosing according to the narrative that was passed down to that person, not something inherent to themselves.
People aren’t born with principles. They receive them from parents, institutions, governments, and so on.
People are born unique. They possess a general goodness and interestingness that nobody else has. Be friends with them because you like the little bit of interesting that they contribute to the world. Be their friend because you’re able to recognize the goodness in them that not everybody else can see.
Yes, they will change and grow, but their goodness and their individuality will never truly fade.
So, keep your friends. Don’t give up on each other if your camaraderie starts to fade as you each divert to your own paths, your own ideologies, your own convictions.
Find yourself fortunate enough to have friends and continue to enjoy them with an open and expectant spirit.
Believe that no matter what happens, your friends are worth holding on to.