Ep_009 Aristotle Rates Your Friendships (Transcription)

Posted by Kristine Franklin

00:00:00 – 00:00:05 – Musical Interlude

Kristine: Hello and welcome!

You’ve heard of Aristotle right, lived in Greece a long time ago, wore sandals, thrived on the basic Mediterranean diet? He was a thinker and a teacher, you know that, right? One of his most famous pupils was Alexander the Great. Yeah okay, so now you can go on Jeopardy because you know that. But when you think of an ancient philosopher like Aristotle, maybe you think about that one philosophy class you took in college, or maybe you think about Spark Notes or sleeping or wishing you could get out of class, you might not think about Aristotle having anything to teach you today in 2018. But you might be surprised. Got friends? Aristotle has something to teach you about friendship.

So Aristotle wrote this long book, ten scrolls worth called, the Nichomachean Ethics. It’s probably his most famous book and you’d think of Aristotle if you took that class, you think Aristotle, Ethics, yeah right, I remember that much. In it Aristotle defines three kinds of friends, even though Aristotle was a pagan it’s worth paying attention to what he says about friendships.

You probably want to believe or think that all of your friends are equally important, that you value them all the same, that they’re all really important in your life, that each friend is just as important to you as the next one. But the truth is you don’t value every friendship the same. It’s just not possible. And Aristotle observed this that nobody does have — every friendship isn’t the same and nobody has all the same kind of friends, and that’s what he observed and that’s what he wrote about and that’s what he was thinking about when he wrote about friendship.

Casey McCory wrote an article at Aleteia called, What Aristotle Can Teach You about The Three Types of Friends in your Life. And here’s how she breaks down Aristotle’s friend category. See if you find any of your friends or friendships in these categories.

Number one: The first kind of friendship is a Utility Friendship. Utility, think of the utility belt on the carpenter’s waist. In this kind of friendship, both parties get something useful out of the friendship. It’s a “you get something, I get something” kind of a friendship. Maybe not that blatant, it’s a kind of friendship that Aristotle says is easily dissolved because it’s shallow, and in the hierarchy of friendships in other words, which friendships are the most important and valuable in your life, the Utility Friendship is the lowest. So a utility friend might be like this. Somebody you work with, you do projects together, he helps you, you help him. Some kind of work partner, it might be a friend you hang out with because she’s always around and you like the same movies. So it’s like well, I don’t have anything to do, I’ll call her, she’ll go out with me. It might be somebody that you live on the same street with and she watches your dog, you watch her dog, you have pleasant conversation together. The Utility Friend is the one you call when you’re bored, and there’s nobody else. And sadly, this is really sad, the Utility Friend might be somebody you hang out with because you don’t want to be lonely. That’s as good as it gets.

Aristotle does not condemn the Utility Friendships, kind of part of life, isn’t it? He doesn’t say that it’s selfish or wrong or bad to be in a Utility Friendship with someone. He just says that of all the kinds of friends that you could have, the Utility Friends are the lowest form of friend. They serve a purpose in your life and you serve a purpose in their life and that’s it. When you move away or get a new job, that friendship will end. The end. It was a Utility Friendship. The usefulness has gone out of it and you know what the really hard part about a Utility Friendship is, if one person is in a Utility Friendship and the other person thinks it’s more than a Utility Friendship, then it can really hurt. You know everybody has Utility Friends, think about your friend, your friend list, who are the people in your life or sort of Utility Friends, not a bad thing. Evaluate your friendships and be honest with kind of where they’re at, be honest with yourself.

The second kind of friendship is all about Pleasure. Not in a bad way, good pleasure. You love these people, you’re drawn to these friends, you have — you have energy, you have so much in common, you laugh together, you like the same things, the same movies, the same sports, the same kind of beer, you connect, like there’s this connection and this energy. And when you’re with each other you laugh a lot, you have fun. It’s about pleasure. The Pleasure Friend helps you define who you are, what you like, they feel your pain. If you went to college you probably had a bunch of Pleasure Friendships. Those are the ones that you sang in choir with or you were on the debate team with, or on the school newspaper, you were in a play together and you just click and there’s just something there and you just really are attracted to the person. Pleasure Friends make you feel affirmed, they make you feel accepted, you’re part of a group, it’s all happy stuff, all good stuff. It’s exciting, wow, what a great bunch of friends.

Well Aristotle doesn’t condemn a Pleasure Friendship at all. But he teaches that a Pleasure Friendship can be short-lived, right? You have so much in common, you do all these things together and then you move away, or you change churches and it’s kind of like — it fizzles out, or one of you just grows up and grows out of the friendship. Have you had a friendship that you just loved this person a lot, you had so much fun but you grew out of it? You kind of grew apart, you kind of grew beyond that friendship. The Pleasure Friendship, it can be really short-lived. Your needs and your pleasures they change over time, you grow out of those friends sometimes. Aristotle called them the Friendships of Youth, that’s why you think of high school or college and that bunch of people that you ran around with and you had so much fun dumping soap in the fountain and staying up till 1 o’clock in the night eating all of the pizza that you could. Pleasure Friends, they make you feel good and you make them feel good and you have an identity together, and you’re one big happy group or your two really happy best buddies. But Pleasure Friends might not encourage you to grow, to grow up. Pleasure Friends don’t encourage you to become a better you. It’s all about fun, it’s all about pleasure. In order to grow, Aristotle taught that you need a friend who is focused on the good, a Goodness Friend.

The third kind of friendship is the Goodness Friendship. A Goodness Friendship is based on mutual admiration for each other’s character and virtue. You both have the same goals and ideals, not just the same movies and sports, but goals and ideals in life. Ideals — and in a Catholic person, you both want to be saints. You want to live a life of virtue. The goal is to go to heaven and live with God and in this earth too, become detached to the things of this world and live more and more like Jesus, right? That’s the goal, the ideal of your life as a Catholic.

A Goodness Friendship requires that you be loving more than loved. Be loving more than loved. In other words it’s about giving, it’s about caring about the other person. It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. Because what you want in a Goodness Friendship is for that person to go to heaven. That’s what you care about most of all. You want that person, that friend to be her best self. You want her to become better than she is. You want her to reach your goals. You want that friend to be a man a virtue. You want him to be upright and a great husband and a great dad, and that’s true friendship. That’s a higher — that’s a Goodness Friendship, when you love someone enough to want what’s best for them.

The thing about a Goodness Friendship is that, you might miss it if you don’t look really closely. Think about those other friends. The Utility Friendship, you’re kind of thrown together right, at work or whatever. You’re just thrown together, you ended up kind of being friends, you go out for drinks now and then. But really that friendship isn’t very deep, or you think about your Pleasure Friendships. They make you feel good, they make you laugh but you know, they may come and go in your life too. They don’t encourage you to be a better person. But if you aren’t — if you’re just looking for buddies or if you’re just looking for people who can help you with your projects or do what you need to do, volunteer along with you or whatever, you might miss out on a Goodness Friend. If you don’t look for a Goodness Friend, you probably won’t find one. You’ll be stuck with Utility Friends and Pleasure Friends, and they don’t really care if you become a saint. They don’t really care they’re about having fun and getting stuff done.

Your goodness friend might be somebody that you aren’t initially attracted to. She might be kind of nerdy. She might bottle-feed her babies, he might be the one guy you’ve never actually had a conversation with because he doesn’t really like sports. I mean the first time you try to talk to him about sports you know, baseball and he was like, you know I don’t really watch baseball, so end of conversation and you never really talk to that guy again, but you see he’s got a really great family and nice wife and you think you know, maybe I ought to go back, maybe I ought to go back.

Maybe you disagree on a lot of topics and at first you’re kind of turned off by this person. You might think the person is completely so incompatible with you, and yet, once you get to know the person and take the time, you realize that you have the most important thing in common, and that is you find out you have a true friend who really wants you to become a saint. He wants what’s most important in life which is to go to heaven. She wants for you to be a better person. They want your best.

A Goodness Friend brings out the best in you. She speaks the truth if you’re being ugly. Hey, you know, really that’s gossip. She’s an example of virtue. A goodness friend might not binge on 30 Rock with you, she might hate parties, she might not eat natural food, she’s not your personality twin. There’s nothing wrong with a Pleasure Friend, right? who likes everything you like and loves everything you love, but your heart yearns for more than pleasure.

Casey McCory calls to mind in her article at Aleteia, she calls to mind — you know that book, The Frog and Toad, those books about Frog and Toad. She says remember Frog and Toad, what an unlikely pair of best friends. But they’re a really good reminder that the best kind of friendship, the deepest, the longest lasting and according to Aristotle the highest form of friendship, is Goodness Friendship, the one that weathers the storms and spurs you on to virtue and tells you the truth.

Raise yourself above just needing a buddy or a partner to help you with projects and seek a goodness friend. Look for a friend who will raise her eyebrows when you say something you shouldn’t. Look for a friend that will punch you in the shoulder if you make a vulgar remark. Hey, knock it off man.

Aristotle says, this is a true friend the kind of friend that cannot be matched, the kind of friend that cannot be matched. Isn’t that an awesome thought to have a friend that can’t be matched? There’s a scripture that’s often quoted in weddings, it’s from the Old Testament Book of Ruth. It goes like this, you probably heard it in the King James Version or you’ve heard the song Perry Como saying it. “Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and my God — thy God my God.” This is from the Book of Ruth, Ruth 1:16. Sounds like it belongs in a wedding right? But did you know that it’s a young woman speaking to her mother-in-law? It’s not a man and a woman, it’s a woman and a woman, a young woman and her mother-in-law.

The story of Ruth is wedged in the Bible between the Book of Judges and the book of First Samuel. Judges is a time in the people of Israel when they’re going through this cycle of disbelief and unfaithfulness to the Lord, followed by oppression and then they’re being oppressed and they call out to God, they repent of their sins, God sends a judge and there’s a temporary time of peace, and then the cycle repeats itself. So this is a difficult many, many, hundreds of years in the time of Israel, and then the book of First Samuel is a story of the prophet Samuel and the beginning of the Kingdom of Israel, when the people of God said you know, we don’t really want this judge thing going on anymore, what we want is a king like everybody else. So this begins the kingdom of God. But wedged in between Judges and First Samuel is this little bitty book, four chapters, the Book of Ruth. You really ought to read it, it’s a wonderful and sweet story. But it’s a story of a friendship, an unlikely friendship that changed the course of history, so it’s that important.

So Naomi is the mother-in-law, read it for yourself, but I’ll tell you the story just really quick. Naomi is the mother-in-law. She has two sons and they each have a wife. But they don’t have Hebrew wives, they have Moabite wives. So you know, the enemy. So they move away, this little clan of Naomi and her husband and her two sons and their two wives, and they — all the men die and so they’re all widowed, and Naomi says to the two daughters-in-law, to the girls, go home to your fathers and your people, go back — to go back to your own people, your own gods, your own — you know go back to your dad’s house and maybe you can get another husband, you know go have a life. You’re young, go back to your people.

And one of the daughters-in-law does, and she leaves and goes back to Moab. But Ruth begs Naomi not to make her go away. She says, don’t send me back to my people and then she tells Naomi and she’s begging, don’t send me away. “Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.”

So this young woman clings to her mother-in-law in love, and says I will follow you. So the two traveled to Israel in search of a distant relative of Naomi’s because they need someone to take care of them and be responsible for. And they find a distant relative of Naomi’s and by law and by custom, he is required to now take them into his household and provide for them. Now Naomi is kind of a matchmaker and she’s a loving mother-in-law and she doesn’t want Ruth to stay widowed forever, so she kind of matches up Ruth with this relative. His name is Boaz and they marry. And Ruth and Boaz become the parents of Obed and Obed becomes the father of Jesse and Jesse becomes the father of David.

What did Ruth and Naomi have in common? Well they both loved the son — Naomi’s son was Ruth’s husband, they loved that same man. They may have even struggled to communicate, they may have spoken two different languages. They lost everything, Ruth could have gone back to her people and found another husband and gotten on with her life and had kids, and been where the people speak your language. But she didn’t. She takes a chance with her mother-in-law, and because of that, she becomes one of the women mentioned in the bloodline of Jesus Christ and she was a foreigner.

When you’re looking for a goodness friend, take a good second look at the people in your life, people you might not think of as being a potential friend at all, like your mother-in-law, your father-in-law. It’s natural to have friends that are in your generation, that’s really natural, but it’s also natural for all of history to have friends among the generations. Do you have friends in other generations?

Our culture wants to isolate you to peers only. It wants to keep you in a peer group, because within a peer group there’s a certain body of knowledge and a certain amount of customs and things in a way things are done, but outside that peer group it’s the older generation, right? The devil wants to divide you from the older generation and rob you of wisdom and create barriers. There are articles on child — child rearing out on the Internet that say things like, never trust your mother’s child rearing advice.

What would Ruth say to that? You have different kinds of friends and there’s no shame in that, but Jesus said to seek first the things of God. A Goodness Friend, one who keeps you honest and loves you just the way you are and can picture you as your best self. That friend might be right under your nose and she might not be your age. It might even be somebody you’ve never considered as friendship material, maybe even your mother-in-law. So pray, ask God to bring you a Goodness Friend. To have a friend you have to be a friend. Ask for His help, ask him to help you see the gold in people you’ve overlooked.

Next up, teach your daughter to love her period. Menstruation, here we come, stand by.

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Kristine: Welcome back. I had a friend in college who was a long distance runner, even when she wasn’t competing she ran miles every day, I mean eight to ten miles every day even when it was not in the marathon season. I could run a couple of miles at my best fitness of life, but she ran miles and miles. I had no interest in pushing myself more than a couple of miles, I could do a couple of miles a day.

I remember asking her why she loved to run so much. She said if I run enough, I lose my period. Now I was completely stunned by this because what I thought she would say was, if I run ten miles a day my legs look great, I look great in a bikini, if I run ten miles a day I can eat anything I want, but that’s not what she said. She said she loved not having a period and it was worth all that running. Wow I’ve never heard anything like that before. Fast forward.

A friend of mine has girls in swimming, in the swim team. Her daughter came home halfway through the season, of the swim season, and she was just in tears and her mom’s like, okay honey what’s wrong? And her daughter said, I haven’t lost my period yet. And the mom said what? And she said, coach says if we hadn’t lost our period by now, we aren’t working out hard enough, we aren’t swimming hard enough.

My friend’s daughter was still menstruating. I guess she wasn’t working out hard enough for the coach. Like, I was just amazed so was the mom, but what do you do? What do you say? And now you see ads in magazines and on TV for birth control, birth control drugs that eliminate a woman’s period, you seen those? They chemically, do you know what they do? They chemically fool the body into thinking it’s pregnant like forever, for as long as you’re taking that drug, your body sort of thinks it’s pregnant. It’s not pregnant, it’s on very powerful drugs, harmful drugs, but the selling point is, freedom from periods. Get rid of your period, take this drug.

This is very upside down. Your period may not be a lot of fun, but it isn’t bad, it isn’t bad. Yet the culture wants women to hate their periods enough to suppress them chemically, or my friend to exercise them away? If girls grow up hating their periods, wishing they didn’t have a period, they’re just right to learn to hate their fertility which is a gift from God. It’s a marvel of womanhood, it’s the way a woman’s body works. If a girl hates her fertility, then what stops her from hating her female body? Those thighs, those breasts, that period, yuck. My mom started her period when she was visiting her old aunt Mabel, no lie, that was her name Mabel. Mom got blood on the bed, she had absolutely no idea what was going on, she had no idea, she was scared to death. She showed her aunt, her aunt was disgusted, she got out a tin can that had rags in it and said take care of that mess, and take — clean up yourself and use these. My mom had no idea what to do or how to do whatever it was she was supposed to do. It was an absolute surprise to her.

Fast forward to when I was a teenager. Oh my mom was very modest and kind of didn’t like to talk about such things, obviously from her background. She just said to me, well you know, when you start your monthly, what euphemism she used for it, she said come and tell me and I’ll buy — I’ll give you the money and you can go walk down to the drugstore and get whatever you need, a kind of really euphemistic language there.

But, mom didn’t know that I was getting sex education at school. So I knew more at least about that and about fertility and ovulation and stuff, because I’d seen the movies, okay? And mom didn’t know that I’d — maybe she knew that I’d seen the movies but they were sort of cartoons, very, very, basic biology, sex education. But I didn’t know if my mom knew. It’s like, does my mom know the stuff that I knew? And I was a little kid, I didn’t really know if I should ask her because she was obviously embarrassed to talk about it. But when I grew up and my daughter was at the age of becoming a woman, I knew that I had a job to do. I knew that I had to counteract the culture of death, not just the culture of hating female fertility, but the culture of death.

So how do you counteract this lie that’s from the total pit of hell, that a woman’s body and what it does is icky? You start young, you start talking positively about your own periods and your cycle, not just the period part but the cycle, that it’s good and you have to start talking to her before she’s menstruating. So a little girl nine, ten years old, you should start having these talks.

Anna O’Neill wrote an article called, How to Teach Your Daughter to Love her Periods, it’s in Aleteia, you can read it. Anna says that if you teach a young woman to understand her cycle, not just the few days of her period, but her cycle, she’ll see that her period is way more than just an inconvenience in her life, and Anna gives a little bit of her own background.

She said that when she started her cycle, she was super happy at first because now she wasn’t a little girl, she was a woman. And she felt grown up, until it became this monthly thing and a nuisance and an inconvenience and she thought really? I’m going to have to do this for decades? Yeah, she was proud of being a woman, I’m not a little girl anymore but, it also seemed really unfair to her that women have to suffer this every month, and guys don’t. A woman’s cycle is so much more than the period week. It’s a month of wonderful changes happening in a woman’s body, it’s the miracle of fertility, it’s an amazing and wonderful gift from God. It’s not just recurring blood and cramps and mess. It’s a gift from God.

Anna says so, what if you could teach your daughter what’s happening in phase one. Phase one being the start of the period for about seven days, that her estrogen is low, she might feel kind of whipped and exhausted because low estrogen will do that to you, but that if she’s paying attention she’ll start to feel it rising, she’ll start feeling energetic, she’ll start feeling better, happier, more up, and if she’ll pay attention, she’ll feel — she’ll realize she feels more confident and even energetic. You can tell her that during this time, that she is actually able to build muscle because her estrogen and testosterone are on the rise, and this is a time when she can build more muscle if she’s a little athlete. Bonus, more efficient muscle building during the first two weeks okay? Then after that, after the ovulation happens, then progesterone is on the rise, and during that time if she’s a little athlete, she’ll burn 30 percent more fat during exercise as she nears her period, she may feel tired, she may feel a little bit moody, it’s nothing to fear, it’s nothing to hate, it’s just the amazing fertility cycle of the human female designed by God. And if God made it, it’s good.

Teach your daughter about each phase of her cycle and what to expect. Draw pictures to show her what’s going on inside, I mean you don’t have to be a great artist. I’m a horrible artist but I drew pictures for my daughter. Here’s your ovaries and this is what happens and the little egg goes tu-tu-tu down the little fallopian tube and it gets caught. You know, draw pictures, talk about it openly, help her understand what’s going on inside. Help her see that her ups and down, the ups and downs that come with being a menstruating woman, it’s not random. There’s a pattern and it repeats. This sort of self-awareness, oh, I’m at this phase in my cycle, can help her feel very confident about her body and understanding what to expect throughout the cycle. Self-knowledge is power and you want your daughter to have that.

A lot of girls end up on birth control, not because they’re even sexually active but because they hate their periods. They think it’s just this inconvenient bother and why bother when you can just take a pill every day and avoid it. Anna says, she felt like her femininity was an inconvenience at best, and at worst, a curse. You don’t have to see your cycle like this, and neither does your daughter. If you don’t understand your menstrual cycle, if you don’t understand all the parts and when I said phase one, you’re like what? Then go online to a reputable medical website and watch the video. Watch the slideshow. Understand your cycle, learn together or take a course, of course you can take an NFP course.

You know an NFP course is not just for married people. Single women and young women can learn their cycle at an NFP course, especially a NaPro TECHNOLOGY doctor, or a NaPro TECHNOLOGY teacher is very happy to teach single women about their cycles. If you have a good attitude, if you consider your fertility a gift and a marvel, so will your daughter, if you teach her. If you teach your daughter all about her cycle, she’ll learn to be at peace in her body. You’re helping her get ready for her future, which might include a husband and the hope of children. Best of all you’re teaching her that womanhood is wonderful and it’s so much more than an inconvenience, it’s a gift. Womanhood is a gift, teach your daughter well.

Next time, celebrating the Visitation, and for email inbox, a mom whose daughter might be selling drugs. Subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss an episode and share with a friend. Word of mouth is the best way for a podcast grow. God bless you until next time, never forget, Jesus is near.

00:28:16 – 00:28:53 – Musical outro