Thursday, September 11, 2014

How To Keep Making Friends

The Royals have been gracing Australians with the pleasure of their company. The media love events like this. The press, magazines, and television coverage ensure that the focus is the guest's every move.The guests seem accustomed to living in a fishbowl, having their every action scrutinised by 'experts', and sharing their child with whomever shows any interest. The visitors are likely to be just as pleased as most OZ are when their tour is over.Having visitors, whether they pop-in uninvited or are expected, is good for us - as long as they don't stay too long, of course. The world is an increasingly busy place, so staying in contact is usually worth effort and time.We're not privy to the real reason for the visit, but let's suppose that they'd like to build a friendship. Friendships are relationships that develop over time. The Royals might become future friends - at the moment, the best they can hope for is relationship-building.Aristotle had a fair bit to say about friendships. He considered that there were three types of friendships - useful, pleasure-providing, or virtuous. Friendships for usefulness get us what we want; membership of an exclusive club, desired contacts, etc. Friendships for pleasure are those who are fun to be around. Friendships of virtue are those in which we are valued for ourselves. True, virtuous friends are not going to evaluate us according to worldly criteria; it's the core self that they're interested in. Oprah summed it up beautifully when she observed that many people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. Or as Cicero observed thousands of years ago, 'The shifts of fortune test the reliability of friends'.

The Royals, of course, may not have considered the type of friendship they're aiming for, or even if they agree with Aristotle's observations: time will tell, perhaps. One thing we do know is that they will have to work at it.We also know that friendships help us to live longer, better. Whether we call it a 'strategy' or not, we need to make sure that once a friend passes on (leaves or goes somewhere else, if you like) that he or she is replaced by someone else.William, Kate, and George can't be counted as friends, yet, but they have made the all-important first-step toward achieving Aristotle's virtuous-type.

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