Saturday, 16 July 2011

We're all hypocrites

I don't claim that I'm consistent with my beliefs and actions, that I'm free from being a hypocrite... but I think very few people can truly claim that they do. We all lapse from time to time. The problem comes in drawing the line.

We're creatures that depend on some kind of standard, on some level of normality. We have beliefs, and so do other people. We expect everyone to hold to those beliefs. So when they don't, we call that hypocrisy and get really pissy... with reason, too. If someone promises to help the environment and instead leaves their lights on and travels by expensive jumbo jets, then that makes the message of helping the environment weaker because, if Al Gore - oops, I mean someone - isn't doing it, then why should we?

Of course, there isn't really a reason to expect someone to be consistent with their actions and beliefs. Most of us lapse at least once or twice if not all the time. I don't follow half the advice I give, partly that's down to laziness, occasionally because the other person's situation is different to my own, but mostly because I can't be bothered. I reckon that sometimes, we're all hypocrites.

You can see why, too. Take Mr. X, who tells people that you shouldn't steal at all costs, and gives a long-winded philosophical explanation of why this is so that can be concluded thus: it inconveniences people. This benefits Mr. X, because nobody will steal from him. Then, suddenly, Mr. X goes bankrupt and loses everything. He has a large family that he still needs to support, so he goes to the shops and "borrows" some food.

Mr. X is a hypocrite in the strictest sense of the word, he contradicted his beliefs or supposed beliefs, and did something that went against his own word that you shouldn't steal, because he stole food. But again, it's in his best interests to steal the food, because he's hungry and so are his family. I'm not going to get into the semantics of stealing for the greater good (in this post) but the point is that both what he said and what he did were for his benefit. Even though they're totally contradictory.

Now, it's true, hypocrisy is a pain in the ass. But if I were to tell you now that you should be consistent with what you say and what you do, that you should walk the walk and all that, then I would be contradicting myself. Essentially, I'd be a hypocrite if I told you not to be a hypocrite, because I'm don't always do what I say one should, and am willing to bet that you probably don't either.

And so we have something of a paradox. Or do we?


1 comment:

  1. This is a very insightful post... definitely got me thinking.


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