Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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Previous Section   376. ABOUT FRIENDS   Next Section

ABOUT FRIENDS.  Just think to yourself some time how different are the feelings, how divided the opinions, even among the closest acquaintances; how even the same opinions have quite a different place or intensity in the heads of your friends than in your own; how many hundreds of times there is occasion for misunderstanding or hostile flight.  After all that, you will say to yourself: "How unsure is the ground on which all our bonds and friendships rest; how near we are to cold downpours or ill weather; how lonely is every man”!  If someone understands this, and also that all his fellow men's opinions, their kind and intensity, are as inevitable and irresponsible as their actions; if he learns to perceive that there is this inner inevitability of opinions, due to the indissoluble interweaving of character, occupation, talent, and environment-- then he will perhaps be rid of the bitterness and sharpness of that feeling with which the wise man called out: "Friends, there are no friends”!  Rather, he will admit to himself that there are, indeed, friends, but they were brought to you by error and deception about yourself; and they must have learned to be silent in order to remain your friend; for almost always, such human relationships rest on the fact that a certain few things are never said, indeed that they are never touched upon; and once these pebbles are set rolling, the friendship follows after, and falls apart.  Are there men who cannot be fatally wounded, were they to learn what their most intimate friends really know about them?  By knowing ourselves and regarding our nature itself as a changing sphere of opinions and moods, thus learning to despise it a bit, we bring ourselves into balance with others again.  It is true, we have good reason to despise each of our acquaintances, even the greatest; but we have just as good reason to turn this feeling against ourselves.  And so let us bear with each other, since we do in fact bear with ourselves; and perhaps each man will some day know the more joyful hour in which he says: "Friends, there are no friends”!  the dying wise man shouted.  "Enemies, there is no enemy”!  shout I, the living fool.  
 

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