(On the Virtues of Friendship)
Marami ka bang kaibigan? Sigurado ka bang tunay na kaibigan ang mga ito? Eh, ikaw—itinuturing mo ba naman silang tunay na mga kaibigan?
How would you know if you’re really a friend to someone or if that person is indeed treating you as a friend? Listing all the nice things and favors that you have done or have been doing for a friend would surely be easy to do. But what about listing all the nasty things that you have been doing to a “friend” or even to an acquaintance, for that matter? I had to enclose friend in quotation marks because if you are doing certain nasty things to a person, then technically you cannot be regarded as a friend of that person—in fact, you cannot even be considered a good person at all.
Friendship is just one type of interpersonal relationship, which may be categorized into different levels that include also family or kinship relations, marriage, and mere acquaintanceship.
According to some psychologists, the following values or virtues are indispensable requirements for an interpersonal relationship to qualify as friendship. The persons involved in this kind of relationship should be demonstrating these consistently. Failure to observe any of them dissolves or annuls the friendship that they claim they are sharing with each other.
Indispensable Values or Virtues of True Friendship
Altruism is the renunciation of the self for the welfare of others; the tendency to desire what is best for the other. In Filipino culture, this is what some people mean when they say, “Isusugal ko ang aking buhay para sa kapakanan ng isang kaibigan [I will risk my life for the sake of a friend].” In the most extreme circumstance, “risking one’s life for the sake of another” may be taken in a literal sense, as in really ready to use oneself as a shield from a bullet that is about to hit a friend. However, in a figurative sense and in ordinary circumstances, risking one’s life may simply mean that a person is ready to involve himself in the troubles of another (even though he will not get anything from the results after the problem has been resolved). In Filipino, altruism may be translated to “pagbubuwís-buhay,” which literally means “risking one’s life.”
Sympathy is “the feeling of compassion or concern for another, closely understanding the latter’s feelings”; empathy is “the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that another being is experiencing.” If someone has lost a loved one, for example, and you patted the shoulder of that person and uttered ‘Condolences’, you are exhibiting sympathy. In Filipino, this is expressed usually by saying “Nakikiramay ako (sa ’yo)[I sympathize with you)].” Sympathy may be translated in Filipino as “pakikiramay,” which is not restricted to expressing various feelings of sadness; the term may be used also when the situation of a person being sympathized with is of joy or happiness.
Empathy, on the other hand, extends further than that. If you said you’re sad about that person’s loss and you really felt the sadness deep within yourself (regardless of the degree of sadness that you are feeling), then you are already expressing empathy. If a person won in a lottery and you said that you’re glad that he won, you’re sympathizing. But if you actually felt also a degree of joy (even without expecting a share of the fortune), then you are empathizing. In Filipino, empathy may translate to “pakikidamhati” (fusion of the Filipino words “pakikihati,” or ‘sharing’; and “damdamin,” or ‘emotions’). If the feeling being empathized with is of grief, sadness, or sorrow, the more specific term that may be used is “pakikidalamhati” (fusion of the Filipino words “pakikihati” and “dalamhati,” or ‘sorrow or grief’).
Honesty denotes virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating, or theft. It is best demonstrated in situations in which speaking the truth may be difficult for others, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of another. If you regard someone as a friend of yours, then you should be able to tell him whatever is in your mind (especially if that involves something about him) without the fear of the possibility of his judging you for that or his getting upset because of that. In Filipino, honesty may translate to “katapatan”; or “pagkamatapat” (being honest) or “pagkamatuwid” (being straightforward or being upright).
Trust is the willingness of a person to rely on the actions of another. In a friendship, there should be trust in each other. The moment one feels doubt about the trustworthiness of the other, friendship becomes questionable; it then ceases to exist. In Filipino, trust translates to “tiwala”; doubt “duda.”
Positive reciprocity is the equal give and take between the two persons. This is what we also refer to as a “two-way interpersonal relationship.” It doesn’t matter who is giving more or who is receiving more from whom, as long as the exchange occurs without expectations and the need to measure it. However, once the balance becomes much tilted or the reciprocity totally disappears, the friendship becomes nullified. It now becomes a mere relationship between a “user” and a “used.” In Filipino, positive reciprocity may translate to “bigayan.” (Literally, “bigay” is give; “bigayan” is “give and take.”)
Sa Madaling Salita
Isa kang tunay na kaibigan o ang taong itinuturing mong kaibigan ay totoong kaibigan kung ang inyong turingán ay kakikitaan ng pagbubuwis-buhay, pakikiramay, pakikidamhati, katapatan, tiwala, at bigayan sa isa’t isa.
Or, in Simple Words
True friendships are best defined by the presence (in varying degrees) of altruism, sympathy, empathy, honesty, trust, and positive reciprocity between persons who regard each other as friends. Without these values or virtues or without a fair balance of all these, the friendship becomes null and void; and the person guilty of failing to demonstrate any of the illustrated values should not be regarded as a friend at all by the other. The interpersonal relationship then becomes a mere acquaintanceship of schoolmates, coworkers, neighbors, co–church or co–club members—which is not a bad thing after all, but in which the persons involved should be more selective, careful, and tactful with their dealings with each other, to keep their private lives discreet and guarded.