- Friendship among the person having mental affinity
- Judging a man’s character
- Bad companionship
- A pitfall
- Striking example
We are naturally inclined to the company of those whose tastes are similar to our own. We never try to have link with anybody with whom we have no intellectual or mental affinity. Dunce and dullards do not like the company of sagacious and capable men, and men of considerable parts shun the company of fools. Intelligentsia does not find much in common with frivolous and pleasure-hunting idlers; and the frivolous think that the diligent and studious are bookworms. Sinners feel uneasy and perturbed in the presence of the virtuous and saints, and men of pious life avoid the company of sinners. A religious man is seldom found in the company of a heretic and atheist. A peasant or tiller of land seldom frequents the company of the elite. A righteous man detests the company of depraved scoundrels and rogues. Their sinful life, inhuman, and immoral activities and obnoxious life-style constantly cut him to the quick.
We can, therefore, as a rule judge a man’s character by the sort of people he chooses as his companions. A boy who is constantly in the society of evil companions is like a weapon in the hands of criminals. If a man’s companions are riff-raffs, ruffians, drunkards, gamblers or narcotic addicts he is probably of the same mould and will acquire their vicious practices. Birds of feather do not make friends with beasts of prey.
Bad companionship spoils the character of a blooming lad just as a rotten apple spoils the fresh apples. The friendship of a good man is one of the greatest blessings the world can give us. A good friend is the asset of life. He is a panacea to the wounded heart and a balm to the tormented soul. His company is as refreshing as the nearness of an ever-flowing spring of cool water, situated at some shady haunt among the mountains. He is a light that adorns and cheers the darkened and gloomy paths of life. Therefore, it is true that the company of his friends and associates influences a man, and we are right in judging his character by the company he keeps.
At the same time it is not always safe to judge men by this criteria. People sometimes have made sad mistakes by thinking a man’s character is the same as that of the company he keeps. A good example of this is the case of Henry V, King of England. Before his ascension to throne, he was known as Prince Hal. He frequented the company of Falstaff and his epicurean crew that always indulged in carousing and led a life of depravity and viciousness and became one of the staunchest valiant England ever produced. His after-life proved that pure gold was scarcely affected by coming in contact with the gross metals, that he preserved the sterling qualities of his character though he frequented the most dissipated company England.
A still more striking example is that of a divinely inspired personage who was often found roving in the red-light area. He deliberately chose the company of wenches and whores. because he wanted to save them from their sins by the nobility and purity of his character. But people made him a butt of ridicule and called him the friend of sinners. Yet he was a paragon of saintliness and incarnation of purity and enjoyed the inward glory of a holy saint that ever visited the earth.