Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Friends and associates

Friends and associates
Tue 15 Jan. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Looked at lightly, the resignations and expulsions from political parties that we are witnessing may seem to be a bad thing. But on deep reflection, it can actually appear to be a good thing.

People expel you from their company because you are not like them. You may not be like them in the sense that you are doing wrong things, things they themselves don't want to be involved in. Sometimes, they may expel you because you are different from them in the sense that you are not involved in the wrong things, the bad things, the evil things they are engaged in. And this makes you different.

We are told that "Birds come to roost with those of their own kind..." (Sirach 27:8); "Every creature prefers its own kind, and people are no different. Just as animals of the same species flock together, so people keep company with people like themselves. A sinner has no more in common with a devout person than a wolf has with a lamb. A rich man has no more in common with a poor man than with a hyena has with a dog. The rich hunt down the poor just as lions hunt down wild donkeys in the open country" (Sirach 13:15-19).

Clearly, the less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. This cannot be disregarded: who you choose to be your closest friends or associates is one of the most important decisions you will make during the course of your life. Charlie "Tremendous" Jones once remarked: "You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read."

You will become like those with whom you closely associate. So if you are not comfortable with them; if you don't want to be like them, leave or expel them from your association if you are in a position to do so and can do so. "Friends in your life are like pillar on your porch: sometimes they hold you up; sometimes they lean on you; sometimes it's just enough to know they are standing by" (Anonymous).

It is important to be mindful about the company we keep, the associates and friends we have. Rupiah Banda thought he had friends when he was president of the Republic and could dispense to them all sorts of favours. Where are they today? Were they real friends? Or were they just ba muselelakwakaba? They cheered him in his wrongdoings. They defended him in everything he did, wrong or right. Can they do the same today? Who is sitting with him today in his limbo where he is waiting for the dice to roll?

Rupiah will soon learn that a real friend is a person who when you have made a fool of yourself lets you forget it. Good friends always multiply our joy and divide our grief.

Rupiah will also realise, if he has not done so already, that your best friends are those who try to bring out the best in you and not the worst in you; the noble in you and not the evil in you; the honesty in you and not the corrupt in you. Those who tried to advise Rupiah to do the right things, to stay away from corruption and other abuses, were perceived to be his enemies. Those who cheered him on with all sorts of propaganda were seen to be his supporters, friends.

Your best friends are those who try to keep you away from trouble, crime, evil, greedy, vanity. You are better, not worse, after you have been around them. A good friend never gets in your way unless you are on your way down. If you engage in corruption and other wrongdoings, you are on your way down and a good friend should get in your way.

Very few, if any, of those who were seen to be Rupiah's friends ever tried to get in his way when he was engaging in wrongdoing, in corruption. Those who tried to get in his way when he was engaging in corruption were seen to be enemies of his.

A good friend walks in when others walk out. A true friend is someone who is there for you when he would rather be somewhere else.

The right kind of friends are those with whom you can dare to be yourself, people with whom you can dream aloud. Sometimes a single conversation with the right person can be more valuable than many years of study. For us, our best friends are those who understood our past, believe in our future, and accept us today.

The wrong kind of friends, unlike the good kind of friends, bring out the worst in you. You know the kind we are talking about: they are the persons who absorb sunshine and radiate gloom. There are people who will always come up with reasons why you can't do what you want to - ignore them. Proverbs 25:19 says, "Putting confidence in an unreliable man is like chewing with a sore tooth, or trying to run on a broken foot."

A friend is someone who knows all about you but likes you anyway. "Treat your friends as you do your best pictures, and place them in their best light" (Jennie Churchill). A true friend will see you through when others see that you are through. Friends communicate at a heart level. There are good ships and there are bad ships, but the best ships are friends.

Rejoice over leaving bad company, associations of all sorts. Don't mourn over being expelled from a group that you have very little, if not nothing, in common with. A day away from a wrong association is like a day in the country. Never have a companion who casts you in the shade. You should have the kind of friends that if you start to thank each other, it would take all day. Mark Twain wrote, "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

It is therefore necessary to look at these resignations and expulsions from or by our political parties in a positive way and as a part of self-purification. Many are called, we are told, but few are chosen. This is true in all aspects of life. If you have wrong people in your company, try to make them like yourself. If this fails, get rid of them or leave them.

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