Doug Ford has apparently said that we must learn to live without friends, and with this, he is on par with his erstwhile-fellow-lockdown leader, Boris Johnson. Besides the obvious differences between the two, there is a similarity: Both overweight, blond-haired bon-vivants, or so we once thought, and so they were once portrayed. Of course, Mr. Johnson is of a more intellectual and educated sort, with an Etonian accent and pedigree, able to quote Thucydides and Cicero, who has studied Greek and Latin, while Mr. Ford, well, he seems a product of our sub-standard socialist educational system, and the less said about that, the better.
Do they have friends? One would imagine they do, and quite rightly, for the need for friendship is taught in no uncertain terms by Aristotle, followed by Aelred of Rivaulx, Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II, with many points in-between. Even Cicero, who was forced to commit suicide by his erstwhile friend-turned-enemy, waxed eloquent about friendship. And need we remind our benighted leaders that the very Word-made-flesh, the Incarnate God, said ‘I call you friends…’, and felt the ineffable pain of betrayal? Nay, even the most Blessed Trinity is a ‘communion of Persons’, and of Love?
Aristotle distinguishes three types of friendship, categorized in Latin under the aspect of ‘amor’, or love, in the general senses: Amor concupiscentiae, love based on the pleasure a friend may give –and such need not be sexual, or the modern ‘friends with benefits’, but any sort of enjoyment, humour, attractiveness, and so on. Then there is amor utilitatis, a friendship based on utility – your friend has a car, and you do not; or a waterfront cottage; or is handy about the house, or can bake scrumptious pies. And, finally, most perfect of all, amor amicitiae, friendship for friendship’s sake, the being loved for one’s own good.
All three are requisite for perfect friendship, found, one would hope, most perfectly in marriage. But they are found to one degree or another in all our friendships – that is, if the Fords and Borises allow us to have friends – or at least to see them, to sing and dance and break bread together.
The things is, no one can live without friendship. To turn back to Aristotle, who said that only a beast or a god can live alone – and we are neither. Or, more properly, most of us would devolve into beasts of one variety or another if left alone too long.
To put this into practical terms, these continued lockdowns and concomitant social isolation are inhuman. Stayin’ home and stayin’ safe is no way to live, at least not long term, and by ‘long term’, we mean much longer than this has been the mantra.
Doug Ford has a family and Boris, his mistress – and, anyway, the ‘elites’ tend not to feel too constrained by the heavy burdens they lay upon the backs of the hoi polloi.
But what of all those – especially older people – who live alone, isolated, lonely? What of the sick, the dying, the depressed and desolate, those who have no one ‘at home’ with whom to ‘stay safe’?
So be with friends; make friends; visit those with none, and find your circle – all in all, be with those you love. Amor vincit omnia, wrote Virgil in his Eclogues, Love conquers all, and the first thing this most perfect of virtues casts out, is fear.