lesson26 On Friendship
Margaret Mead and Rhoda Metranx
1.Few Americans stay put for a lifetime. We move from town to city to suburb，from high school to college in different state,from a job in one region to a better job elsewhere,from the home where we raise our children to the home where we plan to live in retirement. With each move we are forever making new friends,who become part of our new life at that time.
2.For many of us the summer is a special time for forming new friendships. Today millions of Americans vocation abroad,and they go not only to see new sights but also——in thoses places where they do not feel too strange with the hope of meeting new people. No one really expects a vacation trip to produce a close friend. But surely the beginning of a friendship is possible？ Surely in every country people value friendship？
3.They do. The difficulty when strangers from two countries meet is not a lack of appreciation of friendship,but different expectations about what consititutes friendship and how it comes into being. In those European countries that Americans are most likely to visit,friendship is quite sharply distinguished from other,more casual relations,and is differently related to family life. For a Frechman,a German or an Englishman friendship is usually more special and carries a heavier burden of commitment.
4.But as we use the word,“friend”can be applied to wide range of relationships——to someone one has known for a few weeks in a new place,to a close business associate,to a childhood playmate,to a man or woman,to a trusted confidant.There are real differences among these relations for Americans——a friendship may be superficial, casual, situational or deep and enduring. But to a European,who sees only our surface behavior,the differences are not clear.
5.As they see it,people known and accepted temporarily,casually,flow in and out of Americans' homes with little ceremony and often with little personal commitent. They may be parents of the children's friends,house guests of neighbors,members of a committee,business associates from another town or even another country. Coming as a guest into an American home,the European visitor finds no visible landmarks. The atmosphere is relaxed. Most people,old and young,are called by first names.
6.Who then is a friend？
7.Even simple translation from one language to another is difficult.“You see，”a Frenchman explains,“if I were to say to you in France,'This is my good friend,that person would not as close to me as someone about whom I said only, This is my friend.' Anyone about whom I have to say more is really less.”
8.In France,as in many European countries,friends generally are of the same sex,and friendship is seen as basically a relationship between men. Frenchwomen laugh at the idea that“women can't be friends”but they also admit sometimes that for women“it's a different thing.”And many French people doubt the possibility of a friendship between a man and a woman. There is also the kind of relationship with in a group——men and women who have worked together for a long time,who may be very close,sharing great loyalty and warmth of feeling. They may call one another——copains——a word that in English becomes“friends”but has more the feeling of“pals”or “buddies”。 In French eyes this is not friendship,although two members of such a group may well be friends.
9.For the French,friendship is a one-to-one relationship that demands a keen awareness of the other person's intellect, temperament and particular interests. A friend is someone who draws out your own best qualities,with whom you sparkle and become more of whatever the friendship draws upon. Your political philosophy assures more depth,appreciation of a play becomes sharper,taste in food or wine is enhanced,enjoyment of a sport is intensified.
10.And French friendships are divided into categories. A man may play chess with a friend for thirty years without knowing his political opinion,or he may talk politics with him for as long a time without knowing about his personal life. Different friends fill different niches in each person's life. These friendships are not made part of family life. Afriend is not expected to spend evenings being nice to children or courteous to a deaf grandmother. Three duties,also serious and required,are primarily for relatives. Men who are friends may meet in a cafe. Intellectuall friends may meet in larger groups for evenings of conversation. Working people may meet at the little bistro where they drink and talk,far from the family. Marriage does not affect wuch friendships； wives do not have to be taken into account.
11.In the past in France,friendships of this kind seldom were open to any but intellectual women. Since most women's lives centered on their homes,their warmest relations with other women often went back to their girlhood. The special relationship of friendship is based on what the French vallue most—on the mind,on having the same of outlook,on vivid awareness of some chosen area of life.
12.In Germany,in contrast with France,friendship is much more clearly a matter of feeling,Adolescents,boys and girls,from deeply sentimental attachments,walk and talk together—not so much to polish their wits as to share their hopes and fears and dreams to form a common front against the world of school and family and to join in a kind of mutual discovery of each other's and their own inner life.Within the family,the closet relationship over a lifetime is between brothers and sisters.Outside the family,men and women find in their closet friends of the same sex the devotion of a sister, the loyalty of a brother. Appropriately,in Germany friends usually are brought into the family. Children call their father's and their mother's friends“uncle”and“aunt”Between French friends,who have chosen each other for the similarity of their point of view, lively disagreement and sharpness of argument are the breath of life.But for Germans,whose friendships are based on common feelings,deep disagreement on any subject that matters to both is regarded as a tragedy. Like ties of kinship,ties of friendship are meant to be absolutely binding. Young Germans who come to the United States have great difficulty in establishing such friendships with Americans. We view friendship more tentatively,subject to changes in intensity as people move,change their jobs,marry,or discover new interests.
13.English friendships follow still a different pattern. Their basis is shared activity. Activities at different stages of life may be of very different kinds——discovering a common interest in school,serving together in the armed forces,taking part in foreigh mission,staying in the same country house during a crisis. In the midst of the activity,whatever it may be,people fall into step——sometimes two men or two women,sometimes two couples,sometimes three people—and find that they walk or play a game or tell stories or serve on a committee with the same easy anticipation of what each will do day by day or in some critical situation. Americans who have made English friends comment that,even years later,“you can take up just where you left off.”Meeting after a long interval,friends are like a couple who begin to dance again when the orchestra strikes up after a pause. English friendships are formed outside the family circle,but they are not,as in Germany,committed to the family circle,but they are not,as in German,committed to the family nor are they,as in France, separated from the family. And a break in an English friendship comes not necessarily as a result of misjudgment,where one friend seriously misjudges how the other will think or feel or act,so that suddenly they are out of step.
14.What,then,is friendship？ Looking at these different styles，including our own,each of which is related to a whoe way of life,are there common elements？ There is recognition that friendships are formed,in contrast with kinship,though freedom of choice. A friend is someone who chooses and is chosen. Related to this is the sense each friend gives the other of being a special individual,on whatever grounds this rcognition is based. And between friends there is inevitably a kind of equality of give and take. These similarities make the bridge between societies possible,and the American's characteristic openness to different styles of relationship makes it possible for him to find new friends abroad with who he feels at home.