When do you end your friendship with someone? I mean, at what point would you draw the line between friendship and morality? If your friend harasses a girl, would you stop talking to him? Would you end your friendship right there? Or would you try and explain to your friend that what he did was wrong and try to change his perspective or him as a person?
On the one hand, it is immensely difficult for a person to intrinsically change who he is. If someone truly believes that what he has done is not wrong at all, it isn’t very easy to make him see otherwise. But, on the flipside, what if your abandoning that friend is exactly what could set him off and lead him into doing worse?
There’s the added point about how if you keep a fresh apple among rotten apples, it rots a lot sooner. You tend to be the average of the company you keep. That is not to say that if your friend has indeed harassed a girl and you continue your friendship with him, you’ll end up harassing people too. But surely, the company of such a person is bound to have repercussions on how you perceive things or draw the line between right and wrong.
But then again, if you are the person who has strayed away from the so-called path of righteousness, wouldn’t you want someone to be there, to tell you that even though they’re disgusted by your actions, they still value your friendship? Parents don’t abandon their kids, come what may. When I was very young, I stole chocolates from home and lied about it later. I did get a thorough earful for that, but that in no way changed my parents’ affection towards me. But then again, friends aren’t family. Only the ones who stay, through all of life’s vicissitudes, those are the true gems.
Another paradox of sorts that’s been boggling my mind is this. If you look at your neighbour’s answer sheet in an examination hall, it’s cheating. It’s wrong, and you must be punished for it. But what if you’re the scribe for a blind student giving his board examinations. You correct a spelling mistake here, edit a grammatical error there. And what if your gentle nudge in the right direction is what makes this kid’s career, or some such thing? Will your conscience still bother you?
This thought came to me because one of my friends told me that he had been cheating on his weekly tests, following which we had a mild debate over the same.On the other hand, when I found out about someone helping a blind student pass his board examinations, I praised them for being thoughtful and considerate. Does the morality of cheating depend on the abilities of the person you’re helping? If you help someone disabled, it doesn’t seem so bad, but if you help out a friend who hasn’t studied, it’s looked down upon.
I suppose the answer to all of this and more is that the world isn’t black and white. There is no perfectly right way to go about living, and sometimes, you simply make your choices based on your perceptions of what is acceptable and what isn’t.
SK: Well, it’s fine to say that the blind kid can have his career made by the grammar corrections and all, but at the same time you forget that he starts with an intrinsic handicap. You have heard and seen those words, many many times. He has only heard them. He cannot visualise and lacks a very very important memory cue. On the other hand, cheating is the use of an unfair means to gain an advantage. It is not as if the person who is cheating begins with a handicap. On a level playing field, with everyone being given the same opportunity, he chooses to do something explicitly wrong. There is no unintentional bump here, but actual malpractice. That’s my two cents.