Monday Aphorism: Love and Malice

I “told” a friend that he was in serious trouble: “on an edge,” I said. I had tried to “help” him before, to get him to take care of himself, to get some help from a knowledgeable source, to pay some serious attention; all to no avail. Perhaps it all had the opposite result. I had become a kind of conscience for him, I had thought, but really, it seems, for me. Earlier, some years ago, another friend got into trouble with drugs and alcohol, but I didn’t know that in a clear way, and went along with his gradual erosion, taking his word, his interpretation, as if it were factual…knowing better. I said nothing because I had not asked the hard questions, which were not so plainly obvious but not so obscure. I was not his conscience, did not say or ask, and watched him fall into an unsatisfactory death. It lies, still, upon my mind, uneasily like a queasy stomach. So this time, with this fellow whose gluttony is past control and just beyond belief, I tried to say in some penetrating way what I thought. Having said it all before, having talked the sickness unto death, I decided to change tactics, to reverse grounds, to not talk, to become some ultimate conscience, by setting our friendship in the limbo of silence. Now, a little later, having broken that silence, having apologized, having declared that I did what I did out of love, not out of malice, having forgiven both of us to whatever extent that is possible, I wonder where virtue resides between the persons who embody our lives.