Sunday, March 6, 2016

Quote from Simone Weil "Awaiting God" on friendship

Simone Weil Awaiting God. Translated by Brad Jersak (2012, Abbotsford, Fresh Wind Press)

"When one human being is attached to another with bonds of affection containing some degree of necessity, it is impossible for them to wish for autonomy in themselves and the other at the same time—impossible by virtue of the mechanism of nature, but possible by the miraculous intervention of the supernatural. This miracle is friendship.

The Pythagoreans say friendship is an equality made of harmony. It is a harmony because there is a supernatural unity between the two contraries of necessity and freedom, those two contraries combined by God in creating the world and humanity. There is equality because each one desires the conservation of the faculty of free consent in themselves and the other. When someone desires to subordinate themselves to another human being or accepts subordination from them, there is no trace of friendship…There is no friendship in inequality.

A certain reciprocity is essential to friendship. If for one of two sides, all good will is entirely absent, the other must repress affection out of respect for the free consent they must not desire to impair. If one of the two sides does not respect the autonomy of the other, the other must cut the bond out of self-respect. In the same way, those who accept being enslaved cannot obtain friendship. But necessity contained in the bond of affection can only exist on one side, and in that case there is only friendship on one side, if we take the word in its completely precise and strict sense…Every friendship is impure if there is found in it even a trace of the desire to please or its inverse [to dominate]. In a perfect friendship these two desires are completely absent. The two friends completely accept being two and not one; they respect the distance put between them that make two creatures distinct. Only with God do we have the right to desire being one directly 
For as all human beings—or nearly so—are linked to others by the bonds of affection containing some degree of necessity, they can only approach perfection by transforming this affection into friendship. Friendship is something universal. It consists of loving a human being like one would want to be able to love each and all of those who compose the human species in particular. As properties of a triangle, in the same way, those who know how to love can direct a universal love onto a particular human being. Consenting to the conservation of autonomy in oneself and in others is in essence something universal. When we desire this conservation in more than one single being, we desire it in all beings, for we cease to arrange the order of the world in an orbit around a center here below. We transport the center to heaven above.
When the bonds of affection and necessity between human beings are not supernaturally transformed into friendship, not only is affection impure and base, but also it is mixed with hatred and repulsion…The mechanism is the same in affection other than carnal love. This is easy to understand. We hate what we depend on. We hold in disgust what depends on us. Sometimes affection is not only mist; it is transformed entirely into hatred and disgust. Sometimes the transformation is even nearly immediate, the sort where almost no affection has time to appear…When the necessity that links human being has no affective (emotional) nature, when [it] comes only through circumstances, hostility arises (surges) almost from the start.

When Christ said to his disciples, ‘Love one another,’ he was not prescribing attachments for them. Since in fact there had been those [who] were linked together by common thoughts, common lives and common habits, he commanded them to transform these bonds into friendship, so they should not be allowed to turn impure attachments into hatred.

A little before His death, Christ adds this word as a new commandment to those commandments of love of neighbor and love of God…Christ may have wanted to indicate this concerning Christian friendship when he said, ‘When two or three gather together in my name, I am among them.’ Pure friendship is an image of the original and perfect friendship in the Trinity and is the very essence of God. It is impossible that two human being should be one while being scrupulously respectful of the distance that separates them, if God is not present in each of them. The point where parallels meet is in infinity." (pp 96-99)

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