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Michael Oakeshott

“Friends are not concerned with what might be made of one another, but only with the enjoyment of one another; and the condition of this enjoyment is a ready acceptance of what is and the absence of any desire to change or to improve. A friend is not somebody one trusts to behave in a certain manner, who supplies certain wants, who has certain useful abilities, who possesses certain merely agreeable qualities, or who holds certain acceptable opinions; he is somebody who engages the imagination, who excites contemplation, who provokes interest, sympathy, delight and loyalty simply on account of the relationship entered into… The relationship of friend to friend is dramatic, not utilitarian; the tie is one of familiarity, not usefulness; the disposition engaged is conservative, not “progressive.” And what is true of friendship is not less true of other experiences – of patriotism, for example, and of conversation – each of which demands a conservative disposition as a condition of its enjoyment.”


From Michael Oakeshott’s essay “On Being Conservative”.

I found this excerpt in my friend Matthew Sitman’s wonderful short tribute to his friend and colleague Andrew Sullivan, on the day that their blog TheDish, the internet’s best news and commentary hub, wraps up for good. I like all of Matthew’s writing, which I encourage you to follow as he sets off toward greener pastures, though this final paragraph about his business-friendship with Andrew really did it for me today:

I can’t help but feel joy that my friend is leaving blogging behind. His deepest interests are not political, as my own story of meeting and getting to know Andrew should indicate. The daily jousting on the web, however brilliantly he executed it, does not reveal the core of the Andrew I know. Instead, if asked to describe the man, what comes to mind is the time we talked about God hour after hour one sunny Spring day, or the eagerness with which he showed me Provincetown my first visit there. I look forward to the day, soon arriving, when reciting our favorite Philip Larkin poems supplants discussion of web traffic, and when, after going to Mass together, we can converse about Jesus without worrying over Monday morning’s blogging.