On November 14, 2003, five teenagers studying in plus II at Mettur in TamilNadu stabbed and killed a class X student. On April 5, 2004, the police arrested four deaf and mute students at Kahilipara in Assam because they had stolen a car.

Probably, none of the above students would have done what they did, if he had been alone. They did it because they were in a group of friends. One of them must have got the bad idea and the others accepted it and went along with him in carrying it out.

Many people misunderstand the idea of friendship. It is usually thought that we need to believe whatever a friend says. Some people think that we need to do anything and everything that a friend asks us to do. Some feel obliged towards friends and try to do things that they cannot do or should not do.

We need not do whatever a friend asks us if we think it is bad. It is not compulsory to trust whatever a friend says. We have a mind of our own to think with. We find out for ourselves what is good and bad, and we do only what we know is the right thing to do.

There was a boy of 12 years named Ranjit in a small town. One day, he and his friends went to the riverside for a picnic. The boys went into the river for a swim. Ranjit did not join his friends because he did not know how to swim. He sat on the bank watching the others swim and play in the water. Suddenly, Ranjit saw one of the boys struggling in the middle of the river. Ranjit took off his clothes and plunged into the water. Since he could not swim he was soon drowning. He waved and shouted for help. No one noticed Ranjit’s situation and he drowned.

This was, indeed, a foolish act of heroism and sacrifice on the part of Ranjit. There is no doubt that people admired his sense of sacrifice. But Ranjit knew that he could not swim. It was stupid of him to try to do something that was beyond his capacity. It is wise to know ourselves well and do what we can for our friends. It is not necessary to take full responsibility for everything and try to do things that we know we cannot do or should not do.

Roma stole a set of pens from her classmate. She asked Pooja, a friend of hers from another class to hide the pens for her. Pooja agreed to do it because they were friends. Later the teacher found out what had happened. He told the school authorities about it and both Roma and Pooja were severely punished. Pooja should not have done what her friend asked her to do. She should have told Rama that it was wrong to steal the pens even if it meant breaking friendship with her.

Such friendships bring us harm. We are encouraged to do evil. It is better that we stay away from such friends.

A good friend always helps us to do what is good for us and for others. Anyone who makes us do something that is bad cannot be considered a friend at all. We would call him an enemy. By now we know a lot about what is good and what is bad. We should have the courage to say “No” when someone who is supposed to be our friend asks us to do something wrong.

It may happen that a friend asks you to do something. You do not know whether it is good or bad. We should then ask our parents or teachers about it. For example, if a friend makes you eat or smell something, and it suddenly makes you feel strange or different, there is a possibility that you are doing something that could be dangerous for you. Ask you parents or teacher about it before you do it a second time.

We need not also waste time uselessly just because a friend is around. We must make time to talk, play and do other things with our friends; but we also know when it is time for us to study or do our little tasks at home.

We must know when we need to return to our own duties.

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