I’ve had occasion to reflect on this, one of my habits/traits/addictions: Speaking up for my friends.
And, having thought about it: Yup — I’d do it every time. It’s almost involuntary. (Asperger’s?) I’d hope (but not expect) my friends to do the same for me.
There’s another aspect, too:
A friend of mine was approached by a newspaper reporter asking for a ‘character’ type comment about the son of family friends. The ‘boy’ had fallen on hard times — not completely of his own making, but he DID help topple his house of cards with his unfortunate (OK, let’s call it arrogant) manner. At the time of the journalist’s call he was being publicly pressured and pilloried by the tax authorities, among others
The reporter wanted my friend (who’d employed the ‘boy’ decades earlier) to say something ‘negative’ about him — anything disparaging would have done nicely … but why?
Why kick him when he’s down? Why provide one more lash of opprobrium at a time when his personal life, his business life, his world was creaking under pressure, threatening to blow apart at the seams?
The reporter quizzed my friend about the boy’s liking for luxury cars and penchant for collecting speeding tickets … and my friend muttered something about the boy always being “a good driver” in his company … a comment which (ridiculously) made it into the newspaper in a mangled form. Quite unnecessarily.
The issue is loyalty. Why add to someone’s pain? Just shut up.
But let me be clear: I’m not suggesting collusion or a mafia-like a code of silence (omerta).
Should we ‘cover’ another person’s sin? NO. That makes you an accomplice.
I’m as offended as the next fair-minded person (see what I’m doing there?) at, for instance, the ghastly cover-ups of pedophile priests, police and probation officers, abusive foster parents and negligent social workers.
They need to be exposed. So do the con-artists and spruikers who prey on the vulnerable.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant, in those circumstances, and many others.
And exposure, god help us, as painful as it is, is sometimes our best first hope.
For instance, a man I’ve come across, a self-proclaimed paragon of virtue, has things going on in his life that I believe would be terrible for him if they were exposed.
Terrible at one level, but, can I suggest, in another way such exposure could be the saving of him?
It would be the beginning of an abandonment of pretence, the start of a new chapter …, well, you get the picture.
And if he were to find himself exposed in that way, in his misery, heartache and stress, I would hope for him that his friends would stand by him.
I would hope for him that someone would stand up for him in the midst of the clamouring crowd and the baying of the hounds and say: “Hey, I know this looks bad, but you all don’t know him like I do. You don’t know the background to this. There’s more to this situation than you can see … despite what you think.
I’m his friend. I know him and I stand by him.”
I hope he would get that support.
There is no value in abandoning your mates when the going gets tough — nor in helping vultures, hyenas and jackals to pick at them.
(Likewise, as already noted, there is EVEN LESS VALUE in colluding with them keep on lying, cheating and doing their wicked deeds.)
Mates speak up. (Is that a ‘don’t drink & drive’ slogan or a ‘stop family violence’ slogan? Maybe. If not, it should be.)
‘Speaking the truth in love” — now that’s a challenge!