It is no secret that we as people tend to trend. We want to be with the “In” crowd. We want to be “Hip”, “Cool”, “Happening” and I don’t know what else. I don’t think it only happens to teenagers, meaning that supposedly crazy mixed-up bunch with raging hormones, which in my book should not even exist. You’re either a child or an adult, no in-betweens, don’t be fooled by popular hype. Yes, wanting to be accepted by peers, by other people in general, by society, you name it, is a fundamental human need. Nothing wrong with that. What does go wrong is when we allow that fundamental need to be translated into self-destructive behaviour like hanging out with friends that we should no longer hang out with.
Sounds cruel and hard, doesn’t it? You bet. Trouble is, the consequences of continuing to associate closely with friends that we really should no longer be associating or identifying with, are crueller and harder still. For both us and them. What do I mean?
First of all, we need to differentiate between “judging” people and having good judgment. What is commonly referred to as “judging” people really means “condemning” or “to pass judgment as being despicable and/ or worthless”. So, we really ought to use the word “condemn” rather than “judge” in that context. We judge each other all the time. We assess whether we think someone is capable of doing the job, of maintaining truthfulness, of remaining faithful, and so on. We make judgments as to which chicken rice is tastier than the other. We buy certain brands of cellphones because we think they suit our needs better, are more “Cool” or just because everyone else seems to be using that brand. Now, most of us would probably never be in a position to decide if a murderer should be subjected to capital punishment, and that topic is the bailiwick of another post. Most of the time, we ought to give people the reasonable benefit of the doubt. However, that does not mean we have to continue associating closely with them. It does mean that we can look back from time to time and pull them forward and upward if they are ready to receive our help. That is what I mean by exercising wise and just judgment.
Secondly, we are always remembered in the context of the people we are seen to be associating closely, or even remotely, with. Our minds tend to string things together, and we automatically assume that, because so-and-so seems to be very friendly with this or that group, then so-and-so must also be having the same values, beliefs, preferences as that group, etc. Therefore, we need to be careful in choosing our friends and, more importantly, what activities and / or conversations we are observed to be having together with them. We will always be associated with those people and those activities, whether we like it or not. Now, where does that place service to community? We can be seen reaching out to disaffected youth or other categories of disaffected people in general, but the context is important. It must be very clear that we are making friends with them because we care about them as persons, not because we enjoy the same excesses that they do.
Finally, as we move on in life, we ought always to be growing and maturing as human beings. Humanly speaking, we can only help others around us who are of like mind and of like determination. We will continue to help each other no matter where we are on the journey upward and onward. Unfortunately, try as we might, we know that there will always be those that choose another path and another level of existence, and we must of necessity leave them to go to their own place. Therefore, be wise and keep company only with those who are willing to be helped upward to greater heights. Each one will certainly say to the other “Friends forever? Then Follow ME!”. Those who understand this will. Those who don’t, don’t bother. Go well!
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