A few years ago, I had a falling out with some friends.
Okay, that’s a bit of an understatement: It was a full-on row that started with them asking me to choose a side in a messy breakup, continued with me giving them second and third chances to prove they could be 100% adult about the entire situation, degenerated into their inability to keep other, uninvolved parties out of our business, and ended when I was accused of something I simply had. NOT. Done.
My question back then was, “Whom do you believe, ______ or me?”
When met with the answer, “I believe ______,” I responded with zero hesitation:
“Then we are done here.”
And we were. This is because once integrity is called into question, there is nothing to be recovered. The loss of trust and respect is a death knell for any friendship, no matter how long the time or how deep the bond, and questioning integrity is the perfect way to achieve the full trifecta.
I’ve said before that the true nature of evil isn’t leading people to temptation; anyone can do that. I’ve also thought that real evil is giving someone everything they need to succeed and then sitting back and watching them fail, but even that’s not right; the sad truth is it’s only evil because those who fail say it is. The ones who helped, gave myriad and multiple chances, and were patient to lengths other people would have given up and walked away much earlier are nearly always blamed in the end.
No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop helping, giving chances, or being patient; it just means I’ll be more careful about who gets these things from me.
A good lesson is one thoroughly and completely learned.