“Their love also doesn’t amount to anything”, that is, the love and friendship which exist among…the common mass of people. Theirs is not true love. Each one is only concerned with his own interests. Any expressions of love and friendship are purely a matter of show, in order to make a good impression, for ulterior motives.
In actual fact, everyone is jealous of everyone else.
—Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Tzaddik, 471
The Rebbe goes on to tell us other uncomfortable truths about our standards of love, friendship, and jealousy. He tells us that for most of the world’s inhabitants, love and friendship are “held up as being more important than anything else.” But in truth, it’s a sham, says the Rebbe. At bottom, self-interest mostly rules.
High ideals such as love and friendship often fail in application because people do not really believe in them. They only believe in love and friendship when love and friendship feel good, such as:
When the people they love agree with them.
When a friend is there for them.
When a friend is doing well (but not too well) and doesn’t need them to make any effort beyond their comfort zone.
Sometimes, even especially, when a friend is down and out because this excites secret feelings of superiority.
Want to be a good friend? Want to truly love? Start with the most elemental relationship of all—your relationship with Hashem, God. Talk to Hashem about what’s in your heart. Confide in Him. Learn the teachings of those, like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, who spent their lives strengthening their relationship with Him and taught others to do the same.
Recommended introductory reading Rebbe Nachman and You.