"Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends."
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that seems to thrive on cover-ups. As soon as we hear a politician talk about “transparency” and “openness”, we know the spin is on. When “Fact Checkers” dispute and attempt to silence our well-researched, legitimate details and statistics, we know we’re over the target. Social media provides the perfect cover to hide the truth, and at the same time, emboldens us to spread alternate realities and rumors.
But, occasionally, a cover-up can be a positive thing.
About twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to take the motorcycle safety course and get my class M license. My husband found a little older-model 200cc Honda for me. It was kind of a joke of a motorcycle, but it got me from Point A to Point B… except for when it didn’t (and that was often because it broke down a lot). The most challenging part for me of learning to ride is what the instructors refer to as “looking through the turn.” This means that you keep your head up and your eyes looking where you want to go. It sounds intuitive, but it’s not. It’s much easier and feels more natural to look down and see where you are currently. The problem is that this makes it difficult to maneuver the bike through a turn because it’s easy to misjudge the depth of the corner when you’re looking down.
In the same way, true kindness and authenticity require us to keep our head up and look beyond a lot of junk that is happening at ground level. We tend to think of kindness as “acts”, because—like everything else in our culture—we’ve made kindness performance-based. But some of the kindest things we do are things that WE DON’T DO or say.
The trouble is… it’s much more fun to act kind rather than actually being compassionate. For example, when you hand a random stranger a bottle of water on a hot day, they thank you for your thoughtfulness. When you announce that you have donated money to a charity, they send a thank-you note or recognize you publicly. When you help an older lady across the street, someone may be recording you on their smartphone. They could post it on Facebook and your act of random kindness could get two thousand likes.
On the other hand, no one is going to say, “Thank you for not blasting your boss’s mistake in a Reply All email to the whole company”, or “Thank you for not broadcasting your spouse’s indiscretion throughout the neighborhood,” or “Thank you for not allowing the comment that your mother made to you about your children cause a family feud that lasts until your now-two-year-old graduates from high school.” No one will thank you for the cover-up because no one knows what you know. There is no one else to share in the gossip.
Well, that’s not fun. No… it’s not, but that’s the nature of being kind and not just acting it out when others are looking. Are you willing to overlook offenses and someone else’s missteps? Your compassion could save yourself and others a lot of heartache and broken relationships. That is—in fact—the greatest cover-up of them all.
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