Dear Adam Smith: Jr. High Betrayal


Adolescence can be a tricky time for friendships, but fortunately Mr. Smith has advice that can help young people "bear the tribulations of these years with graceful detachment."
Dear Mr. Smith,
My best friend has betrayed me! She shoplifted a lipstick at Target, got caught, and now she’s saying I dared her to do it. What do I do?
Signed,
Jr. High is Literally the WORST

Dear Jr.,
I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. Friendships are so important to us at every stage of life, and we must always feel that we can rely on the moral character of our friends. After all, they advise us, sympathize with us, and help to form our own tastes, opinions, and understanding of the world. If they are unreliable, unkind, or untruthful what does that say of us?
My friend David recently had a problem similar to yours. Another philosopher (for alas, even philosophers are not above such struggles) had befriended him and asked for his help. My friend responded with generosity and kindness, but then he suddenly found his generosity greeted with false accusations and moral slanders, just as you found that your friend sullied your reputation with no warning.
The temptation, surely, must be to stand atop the roof and declaim your innocence to every passerby. I suggest, however, that you do your best to ignore her. As I said on the previously remarked occasion:
By endeavoring to unmask before the Public this hypocritical Pedant, you run the risk of disturbing the tranquility of your whole life. By letting him alone he cannot give you fortnight’s uneasiness.
One must bear such temporary sufferings with fortitude and trust that your good conduct will provide strong evidence that it is your friend who is not to be trusted. I do agree, by the way, that Jr. High is a dreadful time. I urge you to consider adding to your assigned studies some consideration of the works of the Stoics, who may help you to bear the tribulations of these years with graceful detachment.
Yours in fellow-feeling,
Mr. Smith

Editor's Note: Letters to the "Dear Adam Smith" column are not, of course, answered by Adam Smith. He died in 1790. Letters are answered by Sarah Skwire, Caroline Breashears, and Janet Bufton. Advice is for the purposes of amusement and education about Smith's thought. We do our best, but caveat emptor and follow our advice at your own risk.
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