Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Further Thoughts on Hypocrisy (Part 1)

 Hypocrisy is such a nasty word. Its root is from Greek for an actor with a mask in a performance, a critic/interpreter underneath (the mask). That is, what you see is not the real person. 

The usual way of thinking of hypocrisy is to picture someone who acts and speaks in a way that does not reflect who they really are, and they wear this 'mask' to dupe those around them. Undoubtedly, this does happen, but it is not the only problem. Most of us don't want to be knowingly false to ourselves. Think of someone who has lost the fire in the belly for their 'passion' (what a terribly overused word these days) and no longer believes in it, and yet still must maintain the talk and the walk. Hypocrisy, I suppose, but most people get hollowed out and unhappy becasue they know they are play acting. They move on and discard the mask.

What is more common is the hypocrisy that is not directed to the outside world, but inwardly, to the hypocrite themselves. The hypocrisy is more likely unknown to the alleged hypocrite, at least consciously. The more common hypocrisy is the attempt to convince ourselves that we aren't who we really think we are.  We put on a mask for ourselves, desperate to convince ourselves. Forget the idea that we are trying to dupe others, hypocrisy is primarily about self-deception. Of course, the self-deception is strengthened if our hypocrisy convinces others as well. This is one reason why trying to be 'good' is a trap. ('Only God is good' says Jesus, see here.) Wanting to be good can easily become wanting to be good (or whatever the deception) because I suspect that I might be, or could be, bad etc. That's hypocrisy. And it is a path that leads away from our full humanity. No wonder Jesus didn't like it much. (See here.)


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