Documenting the Coming Singularity

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why Your Friends are Such Losers

By 10:10 AM
Character: the inherent complex of attributes that determine a person’s moral and ethical actions and reactions.

Listen up. I’m going to ask you a very important question: Of all the attributes you value in other human beings, where does character fall in the list? This question, or rather your answer to it, will determine the quality of your entire life. Don’t believe it? Read on and I shall convince you that my bold assertion is in fact true. But first, consider how small a value our culture places on a person’s character. Let us consider some of the circumstances where character should, but does not, place high on a list of considerations. The choice of a friend. The choice of a mate. The choice of a political leader. What would you say the primary criteria might be in the average person’s list of important factors? For a friend, perhaps similar likes and dislikes. For a mate, physical attractiveness. For a political leader, charisma, or maybe attractive political positions. I doubt that many would disagree with this assessment. In fact, many would say, So what?

So this: None of those factors makes for a good friend, mate, or political leader. Without character, they will all turn out to be bad choices. This is not to imply that those criteria are without value, not at all. But they should all come after character.

Let’s talk about your friends. One of the lessons I have tried, with some degree of success I hope, to impart to my four children, has to do with their choice of friends. Did you know that friends are chosen? Many people assume that friendships just happen or don’t happen. If you were to ask 100 people why certain people are their friends and others not, most would probably cite some sort of compatibility/incompatibility, or like/dislike as the reason. I like this person. I can’t stand that person. Very few people would say that they choose their friends according to people’s character. This is unfortunate. An ancient proverb makes this claim: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” The context of this quote makes it clear that the author is not referring to native intelligence, but rather the possession of lack of moral character. Life itself proves this proverb correct.

Now, you might be saying, I don’t want to be judgmental. Of course not. But you should be discerning. There is a difference. To be judgmental is to tend to continual criticism of others. This is usually a sign of a person’s poor self-image. To be discerning, however, is to use important criteria in making your selections.

Consider the case of marrying someone who had an intimate relationship with you while married to someone else. They cheated on their spouse to be with you. You are flattered. But do you think they wouldn’t do the same thing to you? If they would cheat to be with you, why wouldn’t they cheat again to be with someone else? Consider the case of someone with good credit putting a poor-credit friend on their cell phone account. Is there any consideration given to the fact that their poor credit means that they tend not to pay their bills? Usually not. When they don’t pay the cell phone bill either, the good friend is surprised. They shouldn’t be. Consider the case of the politician who wants to take money from a certain group of people in order to give money to you. Why would you then be shocked when they decide that you are the one who has too much?

Character counts.