Hypocrisy is everywhere; if we look hard enough we can see it in our families, friends, public figures, and most importantly ourselves. The reason people hate hypocrisy so much is because of the very duplicitous nature of the act; “is the person telling me the truth or are they lying to me?” often the thought running through someone’s mind when they realize duplicity is running amuck. What an ambiguous place to be in! I would hate not knowing if I’m getting the genuine person or not, but the great thing about most people is within the instance of exposure when it occurs, if you call them on their obvious duplicities, they might be willing to capitulate and accept fault, even asking forgiveness. However, there are two professions in our society where the players are encouraged to be duplicitous and even celebrated for their hypocrisy. I’m referring to entertainers and politicians; two professions which when people are called out for their obvious lies they retreat to a place of victimization or complete arrogance where they double-down their lie in the hopes their bluff will prevent anyone from questioning their resolve or be forgotten in a day or two. There is literally an example of this every day and yet we continue to watch and continue to be shocked at these seemingly deformities of the same lie repeatedly. Take for instance, the backlash in Hollywood, people are “shocked and saddened” at something they knew was occurring for years (Sexual Harassment). They even aligned themselves up to the people who were known to have reputations of less than favorable behavior (Weinstein, the pictures are worth a 1,000 words), which begs the question; how can people do this, if the person they are now accusing was guilty of such abhorrent behavior? The detail is in what they wanted, and willing to negotiate their personal integrity or morals to achieve whatever ends they desired, their means justified their ends.
Is this where we want to be? Do we have an option? Is it just an inherent understanding, truth is fluid and so behavior norms should be as well?
I’m not an angel, and I’ve done my fair share of creating a duplicitous atmosphere, much to the consternation of the people of whom I cared about the most. What I found, is once I was in the realm of the liar, it was increasingly difficult to leave, for two reasons. The first reason, I wasn’t being called on anything I did at least to the extent within my perception that I couldn’t talk my way out of, and this was in some way a rush to see how far I could take it. The second reason, probably the most common, I was unwilling to face the disappointment of those people of whom I completely fooled into believing me (The truth of what I was doing was too difficult to face, and too painful to admit ‘truth hurts’). I was unwilling to accept their anger and hurt over something I considered to be justified but I knew deep down was wrong. Obviously, I’ve had time to think this over, and I’m thankful for those people who eventually were willing to call me out and even more thankful for those people who were willing to stick it out with me. They were willing to understand me, even if they didn’t like me very much at all. I am so greatly humbled by this behavior on their parts and sickened by my behavior when I look back at everything. I think hypocrisy is like meat that’s gone bad, once you get the smell in your nostrils and creates the twinge of nausea in your stomach it’s difficult to get the smell out or really forget how it made you feel.
Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
I think because of my past I am more attuned to looking at my surroundings and giving notice to those behaviors which mirror my own past, I just seem to notice them more readily, but like the point in which Jesus was making in Matthew, fix yourself before trying to fix others. If you read the remainder of chapter 7 in Matthew’s Gospel, you see the overall pursuance of truth as an action of absolute need. So, this brings me to the meat of the matter, hypocrisy. Why do we accept this behavior? Are we so afraid of the reflected image we’ll see when castigating someone for their unethical, and immoral behaviors? Perhaps, but we can’t continue to be afraid, we must be willing to have the courage to fight this head on. We are charged with doing the right thing always, especially when this comes to our families! Is this hard? You’re damn right it is, but that’s what must be done. We must expect it of all things we do, and all things we choose to participate in. No one want’s to wear a white shirt with a gigantic brown stain on it, it ruins the whole shirt. Same too is equally true when it comes to our lives. Your life (for analogous purpose) is that white shirt, and when we stain it, it our personal effort is required and even at times prayer or confession must be accepted to remove those stains which cause its unsightliness to be seen for all. Most importantly it requires a steadfast attention to every aspect of our lives including the small choices we make to watch someone who leads an openly hypocritical life or walks loudly down an immoral road. There isn’t judgement of another, to be clear, it is a concern, a love for our fellow neighbor, a charity, we must will the good of the other because they are at their minimum, other.
Truth matters, not your truth and not my truth, but objective truth. The one and only truth, as it were, the truth which indicates a coldness to your predicament, but gives you the answer needed for us to hear “you’re here because of your poor decisions or bad stuff happens to good people, but you must move on”. Wallowing in our misery, and allowing others to do the same, is decidedly the wrong place we want to be in. Moving forward, down the right road is our only true choice in life, and it’s hard, probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
I was given the task of teaching my children with my lovely wife, everything we know. Wow! Way more difficult than I could ever have imagined; they are hard headed and have a penchant for doing the opposite of my explicit directions. However, we have (figuratively) pounded into their heads, “go to the hard”, “if it’s hard and seems very difficult go in that general direction”. These are common phrases we speak to them daily, and because they are children, they are perfecting their hidden eye-rolls as if hoping it will become an Olympic sport one day. Though we know their personal annoyance with our commonly repeated phrases, we hope they learn an appreciation of doing what is right, and they will have a reflexive action to do the right thing no matter how hard or equally unfair it seems to be.
In our general culture, crime pays, liars are lauded as heroes, and leaders are congratulated for being cowards. Entertainment is just what the word says it is, it’s not an explanation and in most cases, it never gets the story exactly right. We watch movies about immoral people doing immoral behaviors and as an audience, we’re willing to watch the stories unfold, no matter just how horrible they are. I imagine with enough time and energy wasted on watching material like this, we are somehow changed, maybe not permanently, but in some small ways, changed. Take for instance watching a person die on a movie, and then being unmoved when we see a death in reality on the news, as though we were hardened homicide detectives and continue to just go about our business as if nothing ever happened. Is this where society is moving, or has moved? Has compassion as a rule run amuck with our principles and the behaviors closely associated with them? I’m often confronted with Jesus’s teachings on compassion, and I quickly realize I need to be more compassionate with everyone I deal with no matter my perceptions of their faults, because, who am I to judge. There is also another aspect of this compassion though, a determined effort to understand the person with whom we are dealing with. Understanding, obviously means listening and observing, and at its very core caring for the person we are dealing with. This doesn’t mean though, we want another to commit sin, whenever they feel it is justified. Sin is an offense to God and drives us further away from God’s love. Here is where compassion and hard truths meet; we must be willing to accept people for who they are and love them with compassion, but at the very same time, we must be willing to tell them “no!”. Otherwise, we become as hypocritical as they are, and thusly as broken as we perceive them to be. I know taking a stand against behaviors seems completely dramatic, but I challenge you to look at your surrounding and notice those behaviors of the people who are closest to you, and begin to recognize anything which doesn’t have a purity behind it. Then be willing to walk away from it, or to tell the person you care for, that the behavior is creating an aberration of the person they are meant to be, they are sick and need to be cared for (in a manner of speaking).
So, now how does this relate to me being a father or husband, even just a man in this world? I have an uphill climb for sure, everything hard I can think of stands before me, and I am the example for my family to make the right decision. No pressure, right? Some people may say, “that’s too much for you, where is your wife?”, well she’s right here beside me fighting with me. We make our major decisions together, not because it’s a “Hallmark Moment”, but because it’s part of the covenant we have with God and one another. What we’ve noticed, is our perception is both true of the hard work and false of the perception of hard work. First, it’s easy to make the right decision, and extraordinarily difficult to keep it in practice for the betterment of our children, and family. We find there are roadblocks every step of the way, the great deceiver continues to put obstacles in our pathway, in hope of creating dissolution of decision and action. In some cases, it got very close to just this result, but we always go back to God, we always recognize the teachings of Jesus and in his divinity, and his sacrifice we recognize our lack of commitment and struggle. This emboldens us to try harder, work more diligently, and above all be who we are supposed to be, and not the hypocritical archetype of this modern age.
The word hypocrite comes from the Greek translation “an actor” or “stage player”, which should cause us no surprise when the person we saw imitating a killer in a movie is a kind and genial person while doing an interview, yet can play a character with gruesome behaviors and thoughts. This above anything, should give a viewer a sense of foreboding when a person can so easily deceive us, and yet in a convincing manner, make us feel inadequate to everything around us. This is the tool set of the hypocritical, they can twist what we know to be the truth, into something unrecognizable, and even create a doubt of anything which we know to be a truth. Our children don’t know this, and are willing to accept whatever truth anyone is willing to spout off to them; though, they are more willing to listen to someone they trust above all else, even when they don’t act like they do. Be the rock and foundation for your family, so the hypocrisy is washed away and the hard-objective truth is revealed in the light of day, that they may be willing to walk a path illuminated by your words and actions.
I see an area of opportunity for all of us, especially myself! My solution is one of faith which leads to morality and pierces every inch of my life. I clearly have work, and don’t presume to think I’m better than anyone else for that matter, hopefully my faults I discuss are a compass for others to illuminate their own lives. If anything, it’s the behaviors we allow, I’m not deriding a single person for making the very decisions I’ve made myself. People I think can change, but behaviors are like language; you can immediately know when something is speaking the language of specific behaviors. Demand more from the people around you, create lofty expectations and hold yourself to them as well. Go to the hard in whatever you choose to do, and love with everything you have in you. Will the good of the other because they are other, only then can your humility be true, and your hypocrisy be non-existent. May God bless you and your family!
God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!!!