Monday, March 30, 2015

Chapter 3 ~ Whom do you need? ~ Socrates Café

Friendship is the subject of this chapter, and I'm thinking of best friends I've had over the years.  Here are some quotes and questions that came up in this chapter:
  1. "In what way does one person become a friend of another?" — Socrates (p. 90)
  2. "What are friends for?" (p. 102).
  3. "Their friends fill some need ... they are in some sense useful." (p. 102).
  4. "What is a good friendship?" (p. 103).
  5. "What constitutes a failed friendship?" (p. 103).
  6. "Is there such a thing as a destructive friendship?" (p. 103).
  7. "How are friendships formed?" (p. 103).
  8. "How are friendships different from other types of relationships?" (p. 103).
  9. "How are friendships formed and how are they broken?" (p. 103).
  10. "Can a book be your friend?" (p. 103).
  11. "Goethe said that friends 'enhance each other' ... To me, a friend is someone who accepts you when you're at your very worst, but inspires you to be a better person.." (p. 103).
And then there's the question of having a conversation with yourself:
"You can't be silent to yourself, even if you are silent to everyone else.  I may not talk out loud, but I still talk to myself.  I still have conversations with myself inside my head, even if no one else can hear me.  I can't turn off the voices in my head" (p. 115).
What do you answer when someone asks whether you see a glass as half empty or half full?  (p. 116)  I kind of liked the idea of a fourth "R" to go along with the first three:  Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmatic, and Reasoning.  The author mentioned noticing "an extreme and pervasive self-absorption and intolerance among people," saying:  "We hadn't just become the 'what's in it for me' society; we'd become the 'to hell with you' society" (p. 130).  Do you agree?  Then he talked about "pessimistic fatalism and helplessness" and the people who transcend all that (p. 130).  On the next page, he asks himself:
"What precisely can I do to realize my dreams?  What steps do I have to take?  What sacrifices will I have to make?  Am I willing to make them?" (p. 131).
Let's end this list with love, okay?  The young woman there with him, apparently just the two of them that day, shared her definition of love.
"Love is a response.  Love is something to be expressed, to be demonstrated, and it leads to this sublime place that is within us but also transcends us.  But this place is very, very hard to reach" (p. 139).
And then a grin spread across my face as I read the last sentence of this chapter, after the author considered asking her, "How do you know when you're in love?" (p. 141).  But he didn't ask.  Not then.  He wrote:
"I wait until nearly two years later, after we're already married" (p. 141).

"Understanding human needs is half the job of meeting them."
— Adlai Stevenson (quoted on page 89)


Shirley said...

The two instances of child abuse that were noted in this chapter under the sections regarding friendship and belief really caught my attention because of a similarity in my childhood. A friend confided that during the photography darkroom sessions with the Girl Scout leader's husband that he was molesting her. He had threatened to harm her family if she told. I told my mother. When my friend was over for one of her frequent visits, for some reason her mother was picking her up instead of our usual walking or biking to our homes which were 6 or 7 blocks apart. We told my friend that my mother was going to go out to the car to tell her mother. The shocking thing was that her mother said that she should know better and that she wasn't going to tell her father because he'd kill him. We stayed friends, but drifted in high school as we attended different schools. (After not seeing each other for over 40 years, we began e-mailing in addition to our annual Christmas letters and then saw each other last year. She came to my mother's 95th birthday party on Saturday.) The incident has haunted me all these years. Once at an EHU meeting, this topic came up and I told about the incident not mentioning any names. Later, in another discussion reference was made to selling Avon bottles to this man. I was flabbergasted when his name was mentioned that it was this man. Another person then spoke up and told about an odd incident at their church in which there was a loud, disturbing argument between him and the father of two early teen slightly retarded girls. I was haunted wondering how many girls had been victimized by him. I read his obituary with a sigh of relief.

I also found the insights about the meetings involving children and senior citizens to be interesting. The comment that "too often, children and seniors are at the margin of society, castoffs" made me realize the truth of this remark. However, I think children are much better treated probably because of their cuteness and their value to society as potential hope for the future. The children in this combined group did seem to realize the wisdom that the seniors had to offer. The love of learning a couple of the seniors shared and how it keeps them young was inspirational to me.

The last line of the chapter was a smiler for me as well. I had already been impressed with the woman's knowledge and her question regarding love. The two do sound like a perfect match with their love of learning and ability to ask questions. I am also impressed not only with the in depth reading of some of the persons in this book (including some of the prisoners), but with their ability to recall what they've read.

Emily said...

"In what way does one person become a friend of another?" is an intriguing question. It seems to me that a magic connection starts the process. You can't explain why, but you feel a desire to spend more time with someone. You can't help but smile when you sense the positive energy coming from them. It is a process similar to the way a dog follows a scent. Does every beginning connection end in friendship? I do not think so. People are rarely only what we sense at first. Just because a dog follows a scent does not mean the outcome will be good. I have also sensed something very negative from people and followed their energy, but from a safer distance. I think you have to trust your instincts and be open to what the other person is sending.
I believe there are definitely destructive friendships. It goes back to the idea that people are rarely only what we sense at first. Everyone changes as they go through life. Shirley, just like your comment about the different places you would want to call home depending upon whether or not you had children at home, I think we connect with different people as we go through life. The closeness we feel to a friend can change based on the experiences we have in life.

That opens up more questions about destructive friendships like "If you feel the connection is no longer there, how do we, and should we, try to end friendships? Are you then back to being strangers? Do we become enemies? Can you 'wish them well' without feeling the pain of losing their friendship?". I was in a destructive friendship several years ago & struggled with how to end it. I felt as if I had been drained of energy every time I was with her. Should I have just come out and told her I no longer wanted to be her friend? I honestly do not think she purposely tried to be destructive, yet I needed regular breaks from being with her.

To the question about having a conversation with yourself, I say that is how we process information. All of our senses are sending information every minute we are awake, so it makes sense to sort it out appropriately before reacting. I would not want to turn off the voices in my head.

Shirley, I agree with you about seniors sadly being castoffs to society. What other kind of people would be in that category? The ability to bring home a paycheck is one of the things children have in common with seniors. Does that put all the unemployed people in the castoff group? What about the people who work but do not make a living wage? Are they any better off than the unemployed? I like the idea of bringing children together with seniors,but should seniors be required to voluntarily give help to others without being compensated as other adults?

Emily said...

I meant to type "The INABILITY to bring home a paycheck is one of the things children have in common with seniors"
Is there not an edit button for our own comments after publishing?

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Sorry, Emily. No EDIT button here. This is a blog, not Facebook. Blogspot will allow you to DELETE your old comment, if you ever want to COPY and correct something in what will then be a slightly different comment. In that case, it will be posted at the later time.

Especially with LONG comments, I "Preview" what I've written and read over it carefully. There's a "Preview" button to the right of the "Publish Your Comment" button below the box where you type your comment.