There’s a song with lyrics that say, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” That’s a touching claim to make, especially around Valentine’s Day; however, another saying that I saw in a recent post from the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this piece of advice:
“Never do a wrong thing to make a friend…or to keep one.” (R.E. Lee)
That is particularly hard advice to live by for many confused and anxious young people, especially in their tween and teen years. It is also hard for many even after getting through the years of raging libido and crippling insecurity that sometimes define those tween and teen years. Even, so-called “grown-ups” often suffer from enough insecurity to do things that they realize later were out of character at best and just plain stupid at worst, all in the name of trying to “fit in” and make new friends.
The most basic problem with doing the wrong things to make a friend or to try to keep one is that your change of character is always just temporary and the burden of living the lie that you have created is not one that can be borne for long. The eventual revelation and correction of whatever that wrong was does not only take way any temporary advantage that you may have thought that you had gained, but also damages forever your credibility with that “friend.” They will realize that they can’t trust you to be honest about yourself or about them.
What is so hard about just saying “No, I can’t do that or won’t do that” in the face of the temptation to do the wrong things? Is it a lack of understanding of what is right or wrong; or is it a fear of being rejected because you do understand that difference and chose not to do the wrong thing? How can that be bad? More important, perhaps; why do you want to be friends with someone who is urging you to do the wrong thing? What will that friendship be based upon? How can you grow that relationship when you can start off on such questionable grounds? Which direction will that friendship go from such a beginning – further down the path of wrong?
I don’t think that there is any valid argument that can be made that you are going into such a friendship in order to save that other person by compromising yourself and your values first. If you cannot get a positive reaction to someone accepting you for who you are and what you believe is right and wrong, then turn and walk away. That is not a relationship worth having. I have only read some of the reviews of the book and the movie (disappointing according to most); but I suspect that at the core of the story of 50 Shades of Grey is a choice that was made by the young lady, perhaps out of naive curiosity as some reviewers have written, that was out of character for her. She abandoned her values for the thrill the unknown and the friendship (some may say the mentor-ship) of Mr. Grey. In the end, was that the right thing to do?
Sometimes we are faced with what can be even harder for us – doing the right thing in the face of a challenge or request from someone who is already our friend or loved one for all of the right reasons (or so we thought). I have bailed friends out of jail or picked them up from hospitals when they had done something stupid; but I have also refused to hide someone who was on the run after doing something stupid. I tried to talk them into turning themselves in or to seek professional counseling help to avoid any more stupidity – I was not always successful at that. I lost some friends that way and I’m OK wioth that. I felt bad at the time, mainly for them; however, I felt good about not compromising myself or my values long after the incidents were over. Let’s face it, friends come and go, but you have to live with yourself forever and that’s a long time to be someone that you no longer like. The old saying “to thine own self be true“, comes to mind.
So, as we head into another weekend, resolve to stay true to your values and not to do anything stupid or wrong just to try to impress someone so that they will be your friend. In fact, if you really want to be a valuable friend to them, make the effort to talk them out of doing those stupid or wrong things, too. Think of it this way: would the next lemming in line go ahead and jump off the cliff if his friend right behind grabbed him and suggested that they go get a Starbucks instead. They could have a lively discussion about what might be at the bottom of the cliff instead.
Have a great weekend and be a good friend…