At the heart of friendship lies an identification of a common need that the friend and I share. The deepest of these needs of course is love. Love both of another person—one who is like us. And love of that which transcends us. Love is an activity that cannot be pursued in isolation. Nor can it be taken by force of law or of station. Love is freely entered into and ultimately freely given. At the heart of any act of friendship lies this gift. This need ultimately constitutes our ever-fragile and ever-present state: poverty. It is in poverty, as Pope Francis is telling the world, that we encounter one another.
So in my few minutes of parenting, thus far, I have learned that neither nature nor nurture compel me to care for my little friend. No. It has to be love: something tender, precious and fragile. I often think in fights over the importance of the family and of the state, we loose sight of these small truths that shape our lives and guide our actions. The busy halls of legislatures and courts hardly seem the place for such metaphysical considerations. But as I hear my daughter’s coos and woos, I wonder what she needs next.
Excuse me, while I go help my little friend.