Hypocrisy is generally a word people apply to politicians and the church, which is funny and ironic. It is also an important personal issue because it’s an issue of blindness to truth – we often engage in it without even realizing so. Today, let’s talk a little bit about what hypocrisy is.
I was surprised to find out that hypocrisy is not what I had thought. From Wikipedia:
Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie.
A few hypotheticals:
- An alcoholic says, “Don’t drink, it’s bad for you. I’m suffering the consequences now”.
- An alcoholic says, “Why can’t those drunkards control themselves like me?”
- An alcoholic loves drinking yet outwardly says, “I drink, I know it’s bad and I want to stop drinking”
- An alcoholic says, “You should stop drinking. Let me teach you how.”
- Since there is no pretense of sobriety, this is actually not an example of hypocrisy. Good thing, or otherwise parenting would be a lot tougher.
Mom: eat your vegetables!
Kid: you just ate a dinner roll! you hypocrite!
- Whether or not our alcoholic truly believes she has a problem, this is a problematic statement because it suggests sobriety when in fact there is none.
- Even when there is an admission of action, the alcoholic’s statement misrepresents his intentions.
- This statement suggests that our alcoholic friend knows the way to stop drinking, which seems unlikely. Why would you willingly be an alcoholic, and then walk around teaching people how to stop? Strange way to make a living…
Looking over these examples, it’s clear that both intention and appearance matter. It’s natural to want to present oneself in a positive light, but when that happens at the expense of truth, that’s not just lying, that’s an act of hypocrisy. Even Jesus makes fun of religious hypocrisy when he describes them as walking around with planks of wood in their eye, yet trying to remove sawdust from their neighbor. Things don’t really change, do they?
Having a plank of wood in your eye makes it pretty hard to see clearly, and in the same way proud but flawed people tend to fabricate reality in a broken attempt to reconcile with the divine. A few acts that I may or may not have perpetrated:
- coming down hard on your roommate while believing you are pretty great
- complaining that politicians are ruining our country, when in fact you haven’t done much either
- calling yourself a fan of a band while you bootleg their music
- saying you love unit tests when actually you secretly hate them
- indicating you are more capable than someone else when really you have no idea
And you, dear reader… any good stories?