There’s a lot of this going around nowadays: ‘It’s not my business.’; ‘As long as s/he’s happy…’ ; ‘S/he’ll hate me if I say something.’ But the question is answered in the Bible: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Yes indeed. Because ‘Happiness’ certainly isn’t the goal of anything. Happiness is transient, like Peace, and Joy…and even Grief. I’m not a Nosy Parker, and certainly do not welcome anyone to get into my business without invitation –still. When something is going on with me, I certainly feel that those people who truly care about me have the right –the duty, even, to stand up and speak. With or without invitation. You don’t leave the people you love alone, even when specifically asked to. You hang around, you call, you send messages –you keep telling or showing them that you’re there, until they realise that a problem shared is a problem halved. And so many problems have solutions. Multiple solutions, strangely invisible to the one who’s in them.
As adults, one of our biggest privileges and greatest burden, is the making of decisions, little and small. And while eating three chocolate bars for dinner may result in increased love handles, deciding to get married, or get divorced, or enter a relationship, or exit a relationship, change one’s job or go back to school… all these and more set us up on a fateful path. We’re born alone, we die alone, and our paths are our own, but our journey is peppered with pedestrians, some before, some behind, and some just an arm’s length away. To live a good life, you learn, by watching the dude tripping and falling in the far distance, that there’s a rock there, and when you get to that point, you step over or around it. That’s wisdom. Then, you turn and help someone behind you do the same, especially if they’re distracted. That’s just good manners. It’s also good karma, and will come back to you. But the people you connect with, be they a field away, on another path, or walking shoulder to shoulder with you, have a duty to you, just as you have a duty to them. They should run across to you when you’re drowning, just as you should scale up a hill, to bring them safely back down. Discussing you reservations with friends behind their back? It’s not productive. It’s not loving. It’s a temporary relieving your own feelings. It’s selfish.
It’s NOT OK to allow a friend to go out with someone you find creepy or shady, for whatever reason. Naturally, you don’t go right up to them and say it like that (that’s just bad manners,) but after you’ve secretly checked them out, or figured out why you aren’t comfortable about your friend’s wellbeing –share the information with them, however uncomfortable it may be. It may hurt now, but there will be a whole world of future hurt avoided too. It’s not some accident that domestic trouble (be it emotional or physical abuse) goes on behind closed doors, and between couples of whom people will often say “They were SO happy together. The Perfect couple.” Someone always suspects, if they do not actually know. A divorce is like a death –you wish you could have done something. And the truth is, you might have, as a close friend. They do not happen overnight.
If a certain person is not the best choice of partner for your friend –you tell them so, no matter how happy and excited they may be. You encourage them to get a pre-nuptial, if they’re wealthy, you challenge them to ask the hard questions, those that need to be asked when two people are serious about embarking on a life together. You stage an interfriendshion. You protect them any way you can, no matter how strange your actions may seem. You do NOT ‘leave them alone.’ And you do not act like a banshee either. You begin any delicate conversation with: “I am your friend and I love you, and it is as a loving friend that I wanted to just say this:…” And bring up specific behaviour that has made you suspect that his situation isn’t ideal.
And… I have no idea where all this just came from. My pursuit of happiness today was limited to making the perfect egg… I’m almost there.