Will you still come see me?

There is a good friend of mine whom I have regular late night conversations with on a regular basis. I moved his call many years ago. We have been friends since. He is one of those I categorise as a legal savant. He possesses a natural legal mind. It’s probably why we get along so well. I learned a lot from him and continue to do so.

Each and every conversation we have is several hours. It always lasts into the early hours of the morning. I cannot remember a time we finished before midnight. As lawyers, of course, our conversations will traverse the gamut of law, legal practice and the legal profession. But it didn’t end there. It reached into life, relationships, science, astronomy, myths, and just about anything that crossed our minds.

We have been having these conversations for many years. Our conversations are such a regular and delightful feature that it’s hard to imagine my life without them.

One night I asked him, ‘If I ever I became a politician or a judge and did something really horrible – end up corrupt, abuse my power, denigrate the law, betray everything I stood for; but I’m still nice to you though. Would you still come and see me?”

Without hesitation, he replied, “Of course, man. You’re one of my best friends.”

“That’s good to know.” An awkward silence descended.

Realizing that, we changed the topic and moved on to pleasanter topics.

I felt he responded too quickly. More out of a reaction to please than a thoughtful answer. Which is fair. Our first reaction isn’t necessarily the most appropriate. He was not one to sugarcoat his views but I felt this time he did it for me, because of our deep friendship.

His answer kept playing in my head throughout the week like a dissonant note in a beautiful symphony. It bothered me because knowing him as I do I felt he did not answer me truthfully. It bothered me until I met with him again for our usual catch up.

After our usual course of conversation that took us deep into the night, I summoned up the courage to ask him what was on my mind.

“You remember that question I asked you last week about me being in power and abusing it?”

“Oh yeah. I do. Honestly, I have been thinking a lot about my answer since then. It didn’t sit well with me. Having thought deeply about it, I hate to tell you but I don’t think I will come see you if you did that. I won’t see you the same way. I don’t see what we can talk about anymore, man. You sold out. I just hope I won’t hate you. Sorry, man.”

“No. Nothing to be sorry about. That’s fair. I expect that from you. Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate it.”

That was the end of the matter as far as our conversation went.

But the dilemma has not left my mind because I and a friend are in that precise predicament.

A friend I had huge respect, admired and adored. A friend who was there for me when I was at my lowest. A friend who welcomed me into his close circle of friends; who was eloquent, intelligent, funny and outspoken. A friend who was admired by many, and whom I count as one of my intellectual mentors.

But that same friend turned his back on all we stood for, spoke out against and left a great many feeling disappointed and betrayed by his joining the political elite and assuming an important position.

There is no fault that I can place against him against me personally. None. He has only been a good friend to me. Maybe it explains why I cannot hate him, and still feel the warmth of the love I held for him.

But he has disappointed and betrayed many, many who believed in him and supported him previously, and that is something I find incredibly difficult to ignore and reconcile with.

This is the dilemma: Is it still possible to hang out with your good friend if he is good to you but has betrayed the important values you shared? Would you?

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