“A friend in need is a friend indeed”
Haven’t we all used this statement to eulogize the merits of friendship? How many times we would have mindlessly said this to promote friendship? I was introspecting about my life recently and the profound effect my friends have played in it to make me what I am today. Many have come and gone but all of them have made an impact. As I was introspecting this phrase came to my mind and then I realized that it needed a second thought!
A friend in need is a friend indeed, now what does that mean? If you need something, does that make you a friend to someone? So if you don’t need anything are you not a friend? Or is a friend the “someone” who helps the person in need? Is friendship just helping the needy? Do we not call this act charity or even more grandiosely philanthropy? Is this the definition of friendship that we have grown up with? Do we believe that friends are there to only help us when we need something?
I searched the web for an explanation to the origin of this phrase and the result given below is as vague as the phrase itself:
It is sometimes suggested that this phrase means, 'someone who needs your help becomes friendly in order to obtain it', that isn't supported by the derivation though (below). Most people understand it to mean, 'someone who helps you when you are in need is a true friend'.
A version of this proverb was known by the 3rd century BC. Quintus Ennius wrote: 'Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur'. This translates from the Latin as 'a sure friend is known when in difficulty'.
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations lists it as existing in English from the 11th century. The earliest version I can find is from Caxton's, 'Sonnes of Aymon', 1489:
"It is sayd that at the nede the frende is knowen."
The morality play 'Everyman' also contains similar lines. The play's date is uncertain and scholars place it a 'late 15th century', which could be before Caxton's work:
Fellowship: Sir, I say as I will do in deed.Everyman: Then be you a good friend at need;
Friendship is way beyond this silly proverb or quote or whatever you may choose to call it.
There are so many other quotations that describe the duties and responsibility of friends and friendship. As we know and have used them also, I refrain from quoting any. Blood they say is thicker but we know “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends”. We do not have the choice to choose our blood line, but we can choose our friends.
My friends have really made life worth living, yes they were not there always when I was in need, but that does not make them any lesser friends. My friends have shared my joys and my tears, been through my ups and downs. They have taught me and learnt from me many things. They have put up with my whims and my fancies, my ego and my idiosyncracies, they have been my safety belt when I wanted to do something rash as also my launch pad when I wanted to simply break free.
Simply put, they have shared my life and made my life a part of their own. My friends have given me money and material when I was in need, but when I will remember them I will remember them for the most precious thing they shared with me, their time. Ultimately the time that they have spent with me is the best gift I have received from them till date and will do so in the days ahead.
So what is the use of this post, firstly it is an occasion to say a big THANK YOU to each and every one of my friends who have shared their lives with me and made my life a part of their own. Secondly to think and wonder how to correct and improve that silly statement that caused this post…
A friend in need…….
(Your help will be appreciated!)