“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”
It has been said we should not judge a book by it’s cover. We may discover the unexpected once we open the book and learn what it’s about. Sometimes we are not allowed to read much of the book, and if that book is a person, the character of that person may not ever be accurately perceived by looking solely at that person. If we turn to their friends, we may have a better understanding of that person.
It is not correct to say that people surround themselves with people that are just like them, that is not quite what this quote is saying. That could be true, but not necessarily. It is that the friends of people are more like a reflection of the person. If they are all hateful people, it is unlikely the person in question is friends with them just to transform them, but it is possible.
We can also ask the friends how they perceive the person, and may gain much more insight. This brings up another interesting aspect of the human condition that most of us are guilty of. We are often different people to different people. We act one way to our kids, a different way at work, and a different way at home. We may be one way with our spouse, but a completely different way with our friends. This is not necessarily bad, unless we are living lies. However we must be mindful of perceptions and our own identity confusion.
We must always know who we are, and yet understand that we are everyone, and they are us. Everything we do affects something and someone, which is why karma is so powerful. We cannot do something hurtful to someone at work, then expect to be considered a nice person at home, that is confusing to others, and ourselves. It is not possible, and it is pretending.
Let us be true to ourselves, our friends, our co-workers, and everyone around us. Any other pursuit of revenge, undermining, greed, or expectation is simply setting ourselves up for more suffering. It doesn’t matter if someone took your seat, left garbage on the public train, cut you off on the road, or is being rude. We can choose to pick up the garbage, keep others safe and defend our families and friends, but trying to teach these rude people a lesson is futile. They will not learn by force, and hurting them will only hurt ourselves and those around us.