Is "a friend to the whole human race" contradictory?

Apr 2011
1,094
Hyrule
Abdu'l-Baha wrote:

"One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race."

A quote attributed to Aristotle says "a friend to all is a friend to none."

So is it possible to be "a friend to the whole human race" as Abdu'l-Baha says?

Here's the entire context of Abdu'l-Baha's words below:

"One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task.

It happened one day in the time of Christ—may the life of the world be a sacrifice unto Him—that He passed by the dead body of a dog, a carcass reeking, hideous, the limbs rotting away. One of those present said: “How foul its stench!” And another said: “How sickening! How loathsome!” To be brief, each one of them had something to add to the list. But then Christ Himself spoke, and He told them: “Look at that dog’s teeth! How gleaming white!”

The Messiah’s sin-covering gaze did not for a moment dwell upon the repulsiveness of that carrion. The one element of that dead dog’s carcass which was not abomination was the teeth: and Jesus looked upon their brightness.

Thus is it incumbent upon us, when we direct our gaze toward other people, to see where they excel, not where they fail."​

As a note Art posted the source of this story here, and he showed The Universal House of Justice identified it in Islamic literature.
 

Jcc

Mar 2013
593
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
One definition of "friend" is an ally that you support in conflict with others. You can't be that to everyone, but that is not the Baha'i concept of friendship. We do not seek to gain advantage through conflict, and if we have a friend that does that, we would counsel that person not to, if he/she will listen.
 
Aug 2014
1,398
Blue Planet
I think what Aristotle has meant by "friend" is in fact close friend; someone you can rely on, who can also be a confidant and the person who can be with you whenever you feel down, with whom you feel happy etc. but the concept of friendship in Abdul-Baha's saying is different. what is implied by His kind of friendship is a means to be kind to one another not necessarily supporting them or praising them for the errors they have.
 
Oct 2014
1,822
Stockholm
Abdu'l-Baha wrote:

"One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race."

A quote attributed to Aristotle says "a friend to all is a friend to none."

So is it possible to be "a friend to the whole human race" as Abdu'l-Baha says?

Here's the entire context of Abdu'l-Baha's words below:

"One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task.

It happened one day in the time of Christ—may the life of the world be a sacrifice unto Him—that He passed by the dead body of a dog, a carcass reeking, hideous, the limbs rotting away. One of those present said: “How foul its stench!” And another said: “How sickening! How loathsome!” To be brief, each one of them had something to add to the list. But then Christ Himself spoke, and He told them: “Look at that dog’s teeth! How gleaming white!”

The Messiah’s sin-covering gaze did not for a moment dwell upon the repulsiveness of that carrion. The one element of that dead dog’s carcass which was not abomination was the teeth: and Jesus looked upon their brightness.

Thus is it incumbent upon us, when we direct our gaze toward other people, to see where they excel, not where they fail."​

As a note Art posted the source of this story here, and he showed The Universal House of Justice identified it in Islamic literature.
To my understanding, the heart of the matter is that, according to our Faith, there is a little seed inside of evey human being. That seed contains the germ of the very Essence of a human being. In some people, that seed is nourished and cherished and allowed to grow. In others, that seed doesn't have the slightest shance to grow, but it's still there, with its potential intact. So, my understanding is that we are to discrad all that which doesn't come from that seed and try to only tak not of those qualities that petain to that seed. In that sense, we can be friends of everyone.

Good theory - it takes a lifetime to learn how to practice it.

gnat
 
Jul 2011
1,747
n ireland
I think what Aristotle has meant by "friend" is in fact close friend; someone you can rely on, who can also be a confidant and the person who can be with you whenever you feel down, with whom you feel happy etc. but the concept of friendship in Abdul-Baha's saying is different. what is implied by His kind of friendship is a means to be kind to one another not necessarily supporting them or praising them for the errors they have.
I admire and love your wisdom Maryam