Sunday, October 29, 2017

Moving Bodies

I understand the idea that when our friends don't live up to the standards of decency for the day, that we may decide to walk away from that relationship. This isn't a new concept. In "the brand new album for 1990," They Might Be Giants sang about the problematic nature of knowing you and "Your Racist Friend." There's nothing inherently wrong with deciding that one cannot be friends with someone due to something they believe about the world.

But that's a different thing from telling others that they must shun people who have been friends to them. Because often, that sort of connection blackmail that places a person in the position of having to chose doesn't bother to offer to replace what is lost, whether that is emotional and/or intellectual sustenance or help in moving bodies. Casting those that one is asking others to shun as hateful enough that they seem like sorry examples of humanity strikes me as something of a cop-out in this regard, because in the end, one presumes that they have earned the friendship.

I've been in the position of having someone ask (or demand) that I walk away from a friendship with someone else in order to retain their friendship, and on the occasions where I've assented, I've always come to realize (sometimes quite quickly) that I made the wrong choice, because the person who forced me into it was generally unconcerned with the consequences of it - after all, that was my problem, and not theirs. And this is not to say that they were bad people, or we attempting to injure me - they simply saw my friendship with the other person as a problem that I had an obligation to solve, rather than a favor that they were asking of me.

Rather than putting people in a position where they've been strong armed into what will seem like a lose-lose proposition, perhaps a better option would be to draw them into a new circle of friends; people who will be even better at offering emotional and/or intellectual sustenance and, for that matter, moving bodies. And were I to feel the need to ask someone to discard a friend, I would, instead, step up to be a better friend myself. People will do what they need to in order to look after their needs, and were I to ask someone to leave a need unmet, I would not expect them to agree unless I was offering to assist them with meeting that need myself.

Because that's what friends are for.

No comments: