Outline: Man is a social being – choice of friends – influence of bad friends – fair-weather friends – devotion to friends.
Man cannot live alone. He lives in a society. As a member of that society he comes into contact with a number of his fellowmen. Among them some are his acquaintances while some are intimately associated with him. It is from this section of people that he makes friends.
One must be careful in the choice of friends. There are good friends and bad friends. The former have a healthy influence on the character and way of life of the person who associates with them. He acquires qualities of truthfulness, honesty, charity, constancy and other virtues. If one is in difficulties, a loyal friend will never let him down. He will come to his rescue in times of adversity. A person may be in a state of despondency due to some calamity or the other. In all such situations a true friend will always come to his aid. A friend who remains loyal under any circumstances is a true friend. He is ever ready to risk his life for the sake of his dear companion.
We should beware of bad friends and the bad influence they wield over us. To be in the company of such characters is to take the surest road to ruin. It may lead to infidelity, drunkenness, profligacy, sloth, ingratitude and other vicious habits. Hence the saying, ‘A man is judged by the company he keeps.’
The story of the Prodigal Son illustrates how the so-called friends cling as long as one has riches to lavish. Such companions who pretend to be friends are parasites. They sponge on you. But the moment you are reduced to poverty they abandon you. They are fair-weather friends and must be shunned at all costs. The prodigal son was justly punished for his extravagance. None of his so-called friends came near him when he was reduced to penury. He had finally to decide to return to his parental home, the only place that could welcome him.
We should be devoted to our friends who will share our joys and sorrows, who will exult in our prosperity and weep over our woes. Let us remember what Shakespeare says:
“Be then familiar, but by no means vulgar,
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.”