Men were born to live in a community. Willy-nilly, they have to live with the others and in their relations they often seek for the company whose interests, characteristics, tastes are similar to theirs. Therefore, we can judge fairly exactly a man by his contact with his friends. “A man is known by the company he keeps”, so runs a popular saying.
In fact, many examples can be used to verify the above saying. Ba is a lazy student. He always neglects his study, wandering day in day out from casinos, dancing-halls to pubs and karaoke shops; so does his intimate friend Tu, the laziest student in his class. On the contrary, Dung, the most intelligent and industrious student in the class likes to make friends with those who are keen on learning and competing in their study.
In brief, fools always avoid the company of scholars, writers and poets whose friends are educated men and women. The English saying: “Birds of a feather flock together” justifies this truth.
It is obviously true that friendship and environment exert a great influence upon men’s minds, temperament and behavior. Formerly Meng Zi’s mother had to move her family to several places in order that her son might not be influenced by unpleasant surroundings.
The above statement, however, has not always got an absolute value. A man with an unyielding spirit and will cannot be easily corrupted by whatever bad environment in which he is living.
In our present society, many government officials who are living in dire straits still remain honest and noble, ready to refuse bribes or abuse public properties. Their lives are just like those of lotus flowers which grow in mud but still keep their everlasting fragrance.
In conclusion, we had better not forget the Vietnamese famous saying: “Close to the ink, you will be blackened; near the lamp, you will be lit up”. Be careful not to frequent bad friends but always but always seek for good ones in our daily communications.
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