“Friendship helps the young, too, to keep from error.”
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle is intent on showing how friendship is necessary in every stage and condition in life. With characteristic insight, he points to the precise need it fulfills in each.
Concerning the young, his statement is brief and to the point. The great danger in youth is error—going astray from the truth of reality. The young, of course, have no corner on the market of error. Yet it stands to reason and is evident all around us, that the young especially struggle to find their way. And often enough they go wrong, in their world-view and their actions.
Adults, or in any case those who are wiser, often look on with anything from concern to consternation. “What in the world are they thinking?!” Indeed. Often we must remind ourselves that in some sense ‘thinking’ is not what they are doing at all.
To some extent this is characteristic of the young, and, well, the young will always be with us. But, on the other hand, there is much that we and they (or you) can do to “keep from error”—at least to some significant extent.
The opposite of ‘error’ is living in the truth. And living in the truth is always a multi-person project. Aristotle quotes a proverb: “Two going together.” How simple and powerful. As he writes in another place, what is not possible to you alone is possible to you with your friend.
Such is human life. Good friendships are the key. Knowing this, what is to be done? Certain aspects of how friendships come together are outside of our direct control. But much is in our power, beginning with being intentional. Prioritizing good friendship has more impact, and can require more of us, than is immediately evident.
Good friendship never happens by accident. It comes to those who know how to cultivate it, and choose to do so. Youth need to hear this. More, they need it patterned for them.
Serious self-examination will reveal, I believe, that we are not prioritizing ‘going deeper’ with one or two friends. Yet this is what it takes, no matter our age.
True friendship—the real thing—will always be one of those amazing realities that stands before us and beckons us. If we would but look, and learn, and choose accordingly. There is nothing so useful, nothing so pleasant, nothing so noble.
As an object of intention, prayer, discernment, and active cultivation, it will come to be, even if fitfully, slowly. And it will always more than repay the efforts we have made. One hundred-fold. And this especially in, and for the sake of, the young.
Become A LifeCraft Member
Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.
If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience. Your financial assistance enables me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.
Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:
- Man of the Household (Course)
- Woman of the Household (Course)
"let this day begin again the change of hogs into people, not the other way around, for today we celebrate again our lives’ wedding with the world, for by our hunger, by this provisioning, we renew the bond." Wendell Berry, 'For the Hog Killing' It’s about being...
The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death. I am old and move slowly, and the slower runner has overtaken me. Socrates, in Plato’s Apology Yesterday I was walking back to the house alone after...
“Come, rather,” then she said, “dear guest, and tell us From the beginning the Greek stratagems…” The room fell silent, and all eyes were on him, As Father Aeneas from his high couch began… Virgil, The Aeneid Each of us has stories: the stories that are chapters of...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.