While reading this section of Proverbs 1, I was reminded of when I was a teenager, and I would try to persuade my mom that it was O.K. for me to do something because “everybody else was doing it,” and she’d say, “well, if so-and-so goes and jumps off a bridge, would you want to do that as well?” Thinking of it now makes me smile, and even though I didn’t appreciate the answer at the time, I certainly can now. Who you hang with says a lot about who you are, and to me these verses are a warning against a “gang” type of mentality, against acting as others act, because it’s cool, against going along blindly, before considering the consequences.
Peer pressure can sometimes be overwhelming in our society. Falling in line with everyone else, so that we may fit in, or so that we can have the things that others tell us we should have, even when we know that our actions are wrong, seems to be almost expected. But at what cost do we race after the images of an “ideal” life? Do we hurt others, and profit from their misfortunes? Are we willing to debase ourselves and take advantage of any means for fame and fortune? One thing I know for sure is that Karma’s a bad-ass, what we throw out there will most certainly be visited upon us. Verses 17-19 assure us of this, that when we are so foolish and smug in our belief that we the smartest that ever lived, we surely set a trap for ourselves, and sooner or later, the bill comes due.
We live according to the company we keep, and if we seek wisdom, we must know who we can listen to and who we should avoid.
It’s amazing to me how simple truths that were recorded thousands of years ago still are relevant today.