[March 14, 2018] Early in my childhood I was given a precious piece of advice from my maternal grandmother (“Bigmama,” yes, that what we called her). Bigmama said that the people around us have a power over us that can be either good or bad. Therefore, it is a person’s option to choose your associations in life but then we must live with the results.
At the time what she said didn’t mean much to me or the rest of the “kids” who loved her and wanted to go to bigmama’s house because there were so many things to do outside. We knew she was a force of good and being around her was important; even if we couldn’t explain why. Bigmama was a strong supporter of her church, her small rural town, and her family.
I have always found that not only do our associations influence us; others judge us by those very same associations. One of my cousins in this small group of kids liked to hang-out with boys from another town. They were always getting into mischief and into trouble. After a tour of duty in the U.S. Marines, my cousin remains unmarried and unemployed to this day. Was it the bad influence from those out-of-town boys?
While a member of the U.S. Army, I was always careful who and what organization I spent my time with. The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church, local sport teams, and several veteran groups are where my spare time was spent. One friend of mine who was commissioned with me had a wife that spent her time around women who were divorced. She later filed for divorce because, as she put it, he was boring. Today, she lives alone and on food stamps. He remarried and is a successful Army Colonel. Was it the bad influence from the divorced women?
Influence is a powerful force. That is why we speak to the young boys in our Boy Scout troop about peer pressure. We tell them how it’s easy to tell us they will say “no” to drugs but when the actual situation occurs, peer pressure is incredibly strong on the young. That path is full of potholes that can be avoided by avoiding certain associations. Recognizing that is what we teach.
Identifying those associations (people or organizations) that are best for us is a challenge for anyone. A good mentor, coach, teacher, or friend can help. Going it alone to make choices like this is a risk that should be avoided.