Bonds of Friendship, Love, and Community

One of the saddest things that has happened in our atomized society is that we have been cut off from the ties that used to be so important in life.   We are separated from our families, often by great distances, and few of us have deep friendships or ties to a community.

In the United States, a ruling just came down from the IRS that marriages of same-sex couples would now be recognized for tax purposes.  This is quite convenient on a personal level, and for many of my readers, it is happy news.  There is a rather sad backdrop, though.  This backdrop is that the only bonds of family that are recognized for non-dependent and non-disabled adults are marital ones.  This is true on a social level as well as a legal one.

Andy Griffith Choir EpisodeHow many times have we heard the phrase, “Oh, we are just friends.”  Friendship has been relegated to a “just,” and is seen as inferior to marital or romantic relationships.  This is a strange concept of an atomized society.  In more traditional societies, one would often have much stronger bonds with one’s friends than with one’s spouse.  Marriage was not primarily a romantic relationship, and romantic love was seen as rather incidental.  Men and women occupied very different social spheres, and a woman’s closest relationships would be with her other female relatives and with her female friends.  I would imagine it was the same for men, but to be honest, (apologizing to my male readers), I have never really understood the dynamics of male friendships.

Before the mid 1960’s, individual families were all part of larger communities, and harmony between friends and within communities was seen to be as important as marital harmony, if not more so.  As I mentioned in previous articles, I have been watching the Andy Griffith Show.  I am quite impressed the portrayal of community in this show.  A disruption of harmony in the community was a major problem that needed to be solved.  Given that this was a sitcom, it was generally solved by the end of the show.  Still, it seems a marked contrast from the way society views these things today.  Over a decade ago, Miss Hilary Clinton stated, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  She was mocked for this, but it was probably one of the wisest things anyone has said in modern times.

Deep friendships and relationships are often viewed with suspicion.  Modern psychology has coined terms like “enmeshment” and “co-dependence,” and people are wary if others get too close, or if they feel like they are getting too close to others.  This being said, I do think that co-dependency exists and can be quite problematic.  Yet, it is something very specific, being addicted to the drama and feeling of importance that comes from caretaking and enabling someone else’s addictive or otherwise harmful behavior.  It is not the same as a deep and intimate relationship that is sometimes difficult and painful because we are imperfect human beings.

Yuri-san CrushIt is seen as a cause for suspicion and jealousy if a married person has deep friendships outside of her marriage.  If two people are close friends in general, there is a view that there might be something inappropriate happening.  I was recently watching Episode 42 of a Japanese Anime show, Heartcatch Precure.   One of the characters in this show is Yuri-san, or Cure Moonlight.  On a personal level, I confess that watching this show is quite emotional, because Yuri-san’s story matches my own to an extent that can be eerily uncomfortable.  Yuri-san is a bit older than the other Precures, and she becomes restored to her powers late in the series.  In any case, there is a little boy who has a crush on Yuri-san.  They had known each other since they were much younger, and Yuri-san thought of him as her little brother.

In a Western story with the same theme, this crush would be treated as something that was to be stopped.  In most shows, the older person would generally try to stop the crush in as gentle a manner as possible.  Still, it was definitely something that needed to be stopped as quickly as possible.  Often in these shows, the younger person would get carried away with the crush and push the issue beyond the point of propriety.  In this story, the crush was treated in a much different manner.  The little boy said that he knew that he needed to grow up and did not expect Yuri-san to reciprocate.  He did want to give her a love letter that she would take seriously, though.  At this point in the story, Yuri-san was smiling for the first time in a long time, and the little boy wanted to protect her smile.  He thought that her knowing that someone loved her would do that.  At the end of the episode, Yuri-san held the love letter to her heart, while her and the little boy stood together.

There was nothing improper about this.  It was just a sweet story about people caring for one another.  It was so different and so much more innocent than what we would see in a Western show.

On this same topic, I have been greatly enjoying the Precure series, but I have been a bit disturbed by the reaction of Western fans at times.  For those who are not familiar with these shows, they are in the Magic Girl genre of Anime, and an article describing the premise of the genre is here.  One of the other features of the Precure series is that the girls have very strong and deep bonds of friendship and love between them.  The disturbing and sad part is the innuendo that the girls must be lesbians or have s*xual feelings for each other.  When looking up images from the series on the Internet, there are some rather rude images of the girls implying this.  I think that this is a sad commentary on Western society.

Why is it so hard to believe that there could exist strong and deep innocent bonds of love between friends?  Why do we assume that something less innocent must be happening?  I think that the answer to this is the overall atomization and cynicism that we are fed from earliest childhood.  I think it is also part and parcel of the phenomenon that Western society seems to believe that the only “real” intimate relationships are s*xual or marital ones.

This all being said, I think that the most wonderful part of my journey has been the development of very deep and intimate bonds of friendship with some very wonderful people.  While at first, my spouse was a bit threatened by this, we worked things through.  One of the strange things that I discovered was not only do these friendships not threaten my feelings for my spouse, but I have found myself feeling even closer to my spouse because of them.   I have been very blessed by this.

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9 thoughts on “Bonds of Friendship, Love, and Community

  1. I really do wish American culture was more sensible about this. The legal system too, of course, but laws are useless to enforce what a culture has not accepted. That said, I’m not sure it is the particular closeness of the precures that Western fans latch onto but rather that they apply their grubby-mindedness to everything within shooting distance. I’ve never known fandom to need any sort of established closeness to do so.

    In either case I wish they’d just stop.

  2. So very true. Thank you for this article. I think the supreme importance placed on s*x as the only kind of human relationship of any real importance is to some extent related to Darwinism and the belief that our animal instincts must be the basis of everything. But come on, even dumb animals aren’t that dumb. Even they can have loves and loyalties that aren’t based on s*x – sometimes with humans.

    • Oh gosh, animals are capable of very deep bonds of love and loyalty, with each other, with animals of other species, and even with us. It is well known that many animal mothers will take in babies of other species and care for them as their own.

      That is quite interesting really, as animals are non-Axial beings. It shows that Sai Sushuri, Divine Love is truly in the fabric of the material world and it is not really even a choice in the nature of Free Will. Divine Love is…well, it just is! It also shows that archetypes, such as the Divine Mother, can come through even non-Axial beings.

      Fascinating, isn’t it?

  3. I made a similar article on my blog about the overvaluation of romantic love in today’s world, although I took a slightly different spin on it by comparing it to a more universal spiritual love, like compassion for all beings. Here is the article if you are interested:

    http://maisappho.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/romantic-vs-spiritual-love/

    Also, I also must attribute the rather lewd fan art of the Precures being more the work of perverts than people who truly believe that close friendships between females=lesbianism. You can find this perversion amongst Western fans in every anime genre, no matter how innocent the actual series is. These days, society seems to gravitate toward sex even more than actual romance in some regards, as can be seen with perverted, homophobic males who enjoy looking at lewd depictions of female-female sexuality, but deny women who genuinely romantically love one another the right to commit themselves to one another in marriage.

    • I just read your article. Thank you for directing me to it. Yes, all love should flow from Divine Love, or in the Filianic tradition, Sai Sushuri. Interestingly enough, in astrology, Venus, Sai Sushuri’s planet, is often relegated to matters of romantic and physical love. That is strangely appropriate, isn’t it?

      Yes, well, there is the element you mention on the Internet. I think that there is also an element of those in same-sex relationships who are looking for validation of their relationships in the media, I think. Even though that is certainly understandable, I think it feeds into the entire problem of the devaluation of other bonds of love.

      You may consider reading the Chelouranyan article regarding Amity, which is found here:
      http://www.daughtersofshiningharmony.com/introductory/amity/

      For a media portrayal of how differently marriage is seen in traditional communities, you may want to watch this clip from Fiddler on the Roof. Of course, it is set in a patriarchal traditional community, but it does give a glimpse into the idea.

      Having been married for 17 years myself, I could watch (and have watched) this clip over and over, and it makes me cry every time.

      • I have just watched this clip many, many more times again. Heee…I think my spouse is tired of it now after hearing it over and over so many times.

        Yes, the marriage portrayed here was an arranged one, but I think that all marriages that survive to become long-term “til death do us part” marriages grow into this. Heady romantic, s*xual love really can not last. Even if you start a relationship being wildly, romantically in love, you still need to “learn to love each other.” You need to learn to accept the other person’s faults and quirks, and realize that sometimes that person will annoy you. You have to be humble enough to know and admit to your own faults, annoying habits, and quirks. You have to face good times and difficult times together. The love you genuinely do feel for each other is so much wrapped in the every day mundane drudgeries of material existence that it can get to the point that you don’t even notice it, almost like breathing. Yet, if you stop to think about it, you realize that you really do love the other person very deeply.

      • Thank you for the link to the article on amity. I completely agree that the entire aspect of love has been entirely devalued to include only romantic love. Many times when outsiders see two very close friends in a deep bond of amity, they ask “Are you two romantically together? Are you dating? etc.” And of course the standard reply is “We are just friends,”as though friendship is on some lower order of relationship than romantic relationships. I think this kind of attitude has led to the widespread increase in depression and mental illness in the West as well, because I know many people who suffer from those problems because they feel unfulfilled due to their inability to pair off with someone or have a lasting romantic relationship.
        I think that given the social obstacles same-sex couples face, their desire for validation is understandable. I don’t think the media’s portrayal and the way it is handled is as much a cause or a factor in the devaluation of all bonds of non-romantic love, but rather a symptom of the problem that has been going on for a rather long time.
        Thank you for the clip of the song from the Fiddler On the Roof. This is a wonderful portrayal of how marriage is seen in traditional societies. Not only does marriage involve the families rather than only individuals, but growing to love someone is such a beautiful concept that is lost on the modern world. It also looks like a quality movie, and since I have never seen it, I believe I will watch the entire film when I have time to.

      • Fiddler on the Roof is a very good movie, although it is post-Eclipse. It is very early post-Eclipse, but you can see that some of the Modern poisons have crept into it.

        It does portray a traditional community very well, though, albeit a very patriarchal one. Despite being post-Eclipse, I think it respectful of the community, for the most part. Just to warn you, it is a very sad story.

        I have been torn whether to recommend it or not. If you see it, you will understand why. That being said, I think that it is a good education into traditional communities and how they deteriorate over time.

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