Friends or enemies?
“Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.”
Here we are again… Nothing is guaranteed in life, and even the closest of friends can become the worst of enemies. The problem is that we often do not know our friends as well as we imagine. Ingratitude has a long and well-known history. The more favors we supply to strengthen the friendship, the less gratitude we might receive. It is generally better not to mix work with friendship. We might discover unpleasant qualities.
On the other hand, an enemy sharpens our wits, keeping us focused and alert. We must try to cooperate with our enemies, and learn to work with them if they are skilled and competent. We can turn around an enemy and make a friend of him if we find mutual interests.
“What men have called friendship is merely association, respect for each other’s interests, and exchange of good offices, in fact nothing more than a business arrangements from which self-love is always out to draw some profit.”
“Rare though true love may be, true friendship is rarer still.”
Looks like the good prince never had a friend in his long life. He sounds skeptical and bitter. Certainly there are so-called friends where the mutual interests and profit-making is the only motivation. I would rather call it a business association. In contrast, a real friendship means to be there in good and bad times, unconditional support of each other and typically lasts for a lifetime. True, it might be rare, but it is even more valuable. My two cents.