Friendship is choosing one person, or few persons, over all other people. By calling someone a friend one is stating, "This person is more valuable to me than Stranger Bob whom I have never met." One values some, meaning friends, over others, meaning Stranger Bobs, based on the potential friend's standards or morality. Therefore, people with similar almost synonymous moral standards are friends, or should be friends. For example, a capitalist cannot be friends with a Marxist, a liberal cannot be friends with a Nazi. The reason being that a capitalist values certain things as truly correct and truly virtuous that the Marxist will find truly incorrect and truly vicious, and vice versa. For example, a capitalist believes it is virtuous for the government to minimize its regulation so that a free market can exist. The capitalist believes every man is an individual; thus, must have the liberty to make choices and actions for his own gain.
A Marxist, however, believes that it is vicious for the government to do what the capitalist thinks is virtuous. Instead, the Marxist finds maximum government regulation as virtuous. The Marxist believes that every man is just a member of a larger collective; therefore, his choices and actions must assist the mass not himself. Essentially, the capitalist would believe that the Marxist is vicious, and the Marxist would believe the capitalist is vicious. Therefore, they cannot be friends because they do not value one another. Since they do not value one another's standards, and one's actions are based on one's standards, they cannot value how one another live their lives. In order to be friends one must recognize one's own standards in the other person. Essentially, every individual wants to be a virtuous person; therefore, he is going to surround himself with other virtuous people. If he surrounds himself with any vicious person he just enables vice. This is how friendship is selfish. It is choosing one person over others. It is choosing one person based on whether or not he is virtuous. Finally, it is choosing virtuous people because one wants to be virtuous and one wants to be around virtuous people.
Unfortunately, as I stated earlier, this is not how friendship is understood. People understand friendship as sacrifice. Essentially, one should surrender element's of one's self in order to be friends with and love all others. There are several problems with this.
Firstly, once again every individual wants to be virtuous, and it is virtuous to want to be virtuous and live virtuously. Furthermore, one's standards and one's actions define one's self. Additionally, one's standards and one's actions are always based on morality. Therefore, if friendship is based on sacrifice, then friendship is also based on being vicious. If one must sacrifice qualities of one's self to be friends with and love everyone, one is choosing not to be virtuous. For example, someone believes that it is virtuous to study science and understand the natural world. However, he has chosen a friend who believes it is vicious to understand the natural world because the scientific explanations are lies about God's work, and more importantly God should be the only one to understand his creation. (The latter person is obviously a lunatic.) Therefore, the former individual, the scientist, must sacrifice some of his qualities that assist him in understanding reality. Even if he has to sacrifice these qualities just by not speaking about his work while he is around the latter person something is terribly wrong. First, by not embracing those qualities he defines as virtuous he is being vicious. Just to get this point across I am going to use a religious example. If one is a Catholic it is virtuous to receive holy communion; therefore, if one does not receive it he is being vicious. A similar situation is occurring here.
The second problem with this friendship is that scientist obviously thinks the religious lunatic is vicious, for the religious lunatic thinks it is virtuous to be completely ignorant the natural world, or reality. Therefore, by being friends with this religious lunatic the scientist is choosing to value someone he knows to be vicious, and the religious lunatic understands this. Everyone, whether they admit it or not, knows that friendship is about valuing one person more than another. Thus, the scientist is sending the following message to the religious lunatic, "You have more virtues than vices. You are not vicious enough for me to ignore you. You are virtuous enough to be valued by me." Consequently, the religious lunatic's lifestyle is being affirmed. The scientist, who he values highly because he is a friend, is telling him that his vicious ignorant beliefs are virtuous. In turn, the religious lunatic will continue acting on his vicious standards. Basically, the scientist enables vice. Thus, the scientist is being vicious for two reasons. First, he is avoiding virtue at least while he is with the religious lunatic. Second, he is enabling vices.
The second problem with sacrificial friendship is that it is not friendship at all. Once again, friendship is choosing a few individuals over all others. However, sacrificial friendships tells people to be friends with and love everyone. In this case, once does not value any individual, including himself, more than any other individual. He values all people equally. Therefore, he is friends with no one.
Finally, friendship is not an end. It is not the purpose of life. It does not provide happiness. Friendship is only an icing on the cake. One should first be satisfied with one's self. One should like who he is. At this point one knows what virtue is, and he is living it; thus, he values his self. Consequently, he will be able to identify potential friendships. Essentially, one cannot value others until he values himself.