Monday, May 17, 2010

Hypocrisy, Part 1

Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things, especially when our ideals and aspirations are involved. I often don’t live up to my ideals, ignoring them in favor of more immediate expediency. Is that as true for you, as it is for me? And, do you feel guilty and beat yourself up over it? I do, ‘cause I want to make a contribution and be a good person, and take what Hillel said seriously, “If not me, then who; and if not now, then when?”

I also think that knowing and not doing, especially with big things like ideals and aspirations is being a hypocrite and being a hypocrite is one of the worst sins there is. Its a ‘sin’ to me, because I agree with Shakespeare that the key to effective living, both as an individual and as a member of society is, “To thine own self be true and it follows like the night the day, that thou canst not be false to any man.” What do you think?

I feel kind of alone in this view though, because a lot of people seem not to mind being hypocrites or even notice when they are, especially people in the news. Instead of stories about people living up their ideals and aspirations, we get stories of people ignoring, or worse yet, betraying them. Like the so called ‘Christians’ who want to fix, shun, or segregate gays, and turn out to be gay themselves.

Anyhow, knowing what to do and not doing it when our ideals and aspirations are involved, seems to be the norm; I do it, you do it, everyone does it, sometimes. But is that ‘hypocrisy’ or just normal human behavior? And if its not hypocrisy, when does it get to be hypocrisy? And why does it matter and who cares?

Last, first. It matters and all of us need to care because judging oneself to be a hypocrite, even with the small things like taking our the garbage, creates a gap, a discontinuity, a doubt, a question, which generates guilt – oh, I should have done that – which creates fear of being caught and punished, and the pain of punishment. And because we’re always ‘shoulding’ on ourselves - judging ourselves as hypocrites, not measuring up, lacking and failing, and though the fear of pain and punishment is mostly psychic and emotional, it still creates a constant buzz of low level stress, that does take a physical toll.

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