Last weekend I was reacquainted with the unpleasant truth that who you hang out with determines the quality of your life.
I blogged earlier about how a friend of mine won a drawing which enabled him to invite three friends to the Falcons/Eagles game in Atlanta. The prize included airfare, the team hotel, a huge dinner, game shirts, access to the field - it is really pretty amazing how much we got out of the deal.
To make the weekend even more sweet, on Sunday we went to Martin Luther King's church "Ebenezer Baptist" and were really challenged by the message. After church we decided to catch a Braves game while we were at it. The way the Braves continue to struggle, it was easy picking up club-level seats for $10 a piece. Just think of it! We were going to a Major League Baseball game AND a National Football League game on the SAME DAY!
A few days ago I blogged about how that whole day was a series of amazing conversations that we had with a homeless man, an ex-convict and a group of demonstrators. We were really living! Walking 30 minutes to and from the Braves stadium we were lit up with discussion about all the things we were seeing and hearing. We talked about everything from justice to racism. It was fascinating what we were trying to figure out about life.
This is because the quality of your life will largely be determined by the quality of your friends . . .
We met two guys on this trip who were just as excited, just as fortunate and just as eager to get all they could out of the trip. However, after dinner on Saturday night they decided to head out and have some fun of a different sort. After some time at a bar north of Atlanta, the guys went to a strip club where the attraction was watching older ladies take off their clothes. I couldn't tell if he was talking about old old or just older than him (he was 23). But it was clear that they spent hours laughing at women disrobe because they were past their prime.
I know strip clubs have been a staple of men's entertainment for eons, but it made me feel ill to think of some lady getting laughed at. Isn't that someone's mom? And of course it was probably all in good fun, but what does that mean? Is it possible that there are certain activities (like laughing at someone's nude body) that have no redemptive value? In fact I might even go so far as to say it cheapens us as people when we take part in something like that. Somehow we become less human when we treat others with no dignity.
And how stuck-up would it be for me to say that we had the better weekend just because we skipped a strip club and went to church? Because it really isn't about the church and it really isn't about whether strip clubs are good or bad. The real point here is how the kind of friends you have and the sort of influence that you put yourself under will determine the quality of life you have.
So people . . . please . . . stop going to strip clubs. And if you must, do not laugh at them . . . it is rude. Better yet, save your cash and give some to Michael who is probably still on Auburn Street asking for money. Get your sleep and find some friends who will guide you to listening to people who are different than you rather than laughing at them. Think of those people in your life who would challenge you up and start hanging out with them.
In the end, the quality of your life will match the quality of the people you hang out with.