The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep

The inner monologues I have on questions of morality can be very tiresome.

The latest argument in my head is based on the question:

Is it justifiable to judge someone by their friends?

I’ve found myself very recently being quite cool towards someone – let’s call her Jill – on the basis that she chooses to call another person – let’s call her Beth – a friend.

In my defence (sometimes I can’t help myself talking like a lawyer!), I have learned things about Beth lately that would curl your hair. I don’t like to judge people without evidence, although having said that I’ve learned to have great respect in recent years for my intuition; however, the evidence has mounted lately that Beth is someone who ought to be avoided at all costs.  Interestingly, the gut told me this very thing three or so years ago when I first met her, but I chose to not rely on it at that time…more fool me.

So, I find myself being cool towards Jill because I know she and Beth are friends.  Then of course the little – although very noisy – voice in my head is questioning my manner.  Just because evidence indicates Beth is not a nice person, doesn’t mean that Jill isn’t either.


I acknowledge that. Like we all do, Jill has her faults – chief among Jill’s being that you can’t tell her anything personal about yourself or it is guaranteed the majority of the town will know about it the next day; I learned that to my detriment. She would give Gladys Kravitz a run for the prize of small town gossip queen. Gladys However, chances are Jill is not the sort of poisonous person that ought to be shunned to maintain your sanity.  At least I hope that’s the case….I have to admit I have serious doubts about humanity at times, and it’s gotten to the point where nothing would surprise me about other people. Any wonder I look forward to the evenings and weekends when I can retreat home and enjoy the company of other animal life (including my offspring of course…).

Yet, I can’t help what seems to be a purely reflex reaction. The instinct is saying – Jill is an ally of Beth’s, therefore she cannot be an ally of mine.

Keen to quieten the internal squabble, I went sniffing around the internet for help. And I found an interesting theory to support the shunning of Jill.

Jim A.C Everett writes that there is an evolutionary basis for the reaction; evolution, or survival of the fittest if you like, requires that social cheaters and untrustworthy social partners be detected and not chosen as social partners (or friends, to put it simply), because they cannot be relied upon to act in a mutually beneficial way.   Jim also argues that such a reaction is justified because we have limited knowledge of the person we are judging.

Mmmm.. doesn’t really silence the voice, unfortunately.  I was raised a Catholic and, although I don’t practice it any more, I do believe the upbringing has resulted in these relentless morality struggles I have.  There is that ever present “love one another” command resounding in my head….and to be honest, I do try to be fair and kind always. 

However, being aloof to Jill may not be fair, and probably not kind.

So, the internal dispute will continue no doubt, and I am guessing ultimately my intuition will win out.

internal monologue

Friday…. I have the urge to make something this weekend, do some craft. Will go hunting for a pattern or inspiration this afternoon.

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