To what degree should acts of kindness be publicized? This is a question I often ask myself. In my opinion, the most important kind of charity is that which is given in secret. I think of the Sermon on the Mount, where the Savior taught, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them… Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee… That thine alms may be in secret.”
This is a difficult subject for me. Obviously, we all like to get a little credit when we do acts of service. At the same time, when we read about other people’s charitable acts, it can often motivate and inspire us. I guess the answer might be in that we shouldn’t seek praise from others for our kindness, but as bystanders we should highlight those acts of others that inspire us. Of course, that requires a recognition when others are kind or charitable. I also think there should be a level of understanding that not all we read or see online is as it seems.
I was looking at this article on the GoodNewsNetwork about a “Kindness Photography” contest. Looking at the pictures, I wondered how many were staged. Like Social Media, so much is often staged to show perfection (and I think a contest might be an obvious place for staging). This made me think about acts of kindness that I’ve seen that I simply did not have time or the right moment to take a picture. This morning, for instance, while my kids were walking to school, my fifth-grade son called to my kindergarten son to come give him a hug before going to class. Seeing my two boys hug each other was absolutely inspiring. I am so impressed with the love and kindness my children can show toward each other (when they aren’t tearing each other to shreds at other times), but those moments are never caught on camera. There are so many acts of kindness in the world that are never captured. And yet, Christ promises that “thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”