Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard


Lodi, San Joaquin Valley, California, USA

July 24, 2008

"Today is for the championship."  ...   Breakthrough Racing 
"If everything seems to be under control, you're just not going fast enough." ... Mario Andretti, Formula One and Grand Prix racing legend
This essay, Friend, is the companion piece to It is also a component of the supergroup Friend:

Photography by Werner Erhard Foundation - 1979
Werner Erhard
There's a lot I could propose about what constitutes friendship, specifically about what Friend  is. Perhaps there's really only one distinction worthwhile in assessing the authenticity of friendship, in designating someone Friend, in being designated Friend  by someone, in designating yourself Friend.

Traditionally a friend is someone I've known for a long time, someone I've become comfortable  with over time. It's a default: the longer I know you, the chances are I'll become more comfortable around you. There's certainly a degree of comfort in friendship.

On closer inspection I notice while comfort is often present in friendship, it may not be a requirement  for Friend. When Friend  presences, comfort may come along for the ride simply as a hitchhiker. That is to say, around Friend  I may be willing to "go to" places in our conversations which aren't always comfortable for me, inspired to go there, to "push past" ie to break through, by what the presence of Friend  makes possible. In other words, the lack of or even the absence of comfort isn't mutually exclusive with the experience of Friend. In fact, discomfort may actually be a component.

Affinity, too, is a quality often associated with friendship. Eventually, after knowing someone for long enough, affinity shows up - it's no longer in question. Like the birth of a child from nothing, soon affinity is tangible beyond doubt. The questions, however, remain: is affinity a requirement for Friend?  Is comfort a requirement for Friend?

Another quality (indeed, another component) of friendship is trust. For me, the whole issue of trust, what it takes for me to trust, what's required of me to be trustworthy, gets as close to the bone of what it is to be a human being as any other issue, perhaps even closer. Traditionally trust is earned over time. Now consider this: who's responsible for your trust if you wait to see if I'm trustworthy over time  before you grant me your trust? If you wait to see if I'm trustworthy over time before you grant me your trust, you grant me your trust because I've proved I'm trustworthy. In this case, who's responsible for your trust? On the other hand, who's responsible for your trust if at the outset of our new friendship, you grant me your trust ... just  ... like  ... that  ... no questions asked? In this situation, you grant me your trust because you grant me your trust. Who's responsible for your trust now? The answers to these two "who's responsible for your trust?" questions asked in different scenarios alter traditional views of what trust is and what trust isn't.

When my friend says the words "I trust you" to me, they accompany a gift he's giving me. He's saying "Here! This is for you.". It's got no strings attached. He gives his trust unconditionally. His trust isn't an acknowledgement that I've passed the examination, that I've earned the BT  degree (Bachelor of Trust)  and am now trained and qualified to be trusted. With him, it's the other way around: first  he trusts me then  in the space of his trust, I discover I'm trusted - ergo, I become trustworthy.

Is it after or before  comfort, affinity, and trust are established that Friend  enters front and center stage? What exactly is the emergent quality we call Friend?  I mean, what is it really? Is it possible to designate Friend  without first testing the waters? Is it possible to designate Friend  without a getting to know you  familiarization period? without a courtship?  I mean really?  Is it? What are the qualifications for Friend?  Is it possible to designate Friend  simply by declaration alone?

Friend  doesn't have to qualify. Friend  doesn't require comfort: Friend  sources comfort. Friend  doesn't require affinity: Friend  sources affinity. Friend  doesn't require trust: Friend  sources trust. Friend  relates to who I really am, to my true nature. Friend  relates to me literally as if I'm a god, that is to say Friend  relates to my divine nature and gives space  to my stuff. In a commonly ongoing distortion of what a friend is, we relate to another as if they are their stuff  and we give space to their divine nature, that is if, indeed, we even acknowledge their divine nature at all. That's ass backwards. Friend  gets the perspective and the balance right.

My Friend  sources. He doesn't wait until his friendship is earned before he gives it. He gives Friend  unconditionally as his word. And that's just for starters - that's his opening bid. He's my Friend  just because he says so.

Now that he's given this access, now that he's given these keys to the kingdom, reciprocally I'm his Friend  because I say so.

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