The Role of Hypocrisy

Paul Krugman’s blog recently had an interesting post  about the role that hypocrisy plays in today’s politics, George Washington Was A Hypocrite . Krugman argues thatsomehow the notion has entered our politics that supporting a cause that isn’t in your personal financial interest makes you a hypocrite”. The post makes for interesting reading and in my case aroused some musing about the role of hypocrisy in our society.

If one accepts that hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform, he can immediately envision the role of hypocrisy in our society. The freedoms that we cherish have long been battered by the hypocritical nature of man.

The hypocrisy of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of the Puritans, the Holocaust, the horror of 9/11, the questioning of the electability of an individual to the office of President of the United States based on his religion or lack thereof, all make the freedom of worship something to not only be treasured but also to be revered and defended.

If one accepts that the freedom of worship is a freedom to be cherished and defended, he finds himself putting the freedom of worship in conflict with the freedom from fear. To defend, more often than not , implies resorting to violent action, the very thing the freedom from fear seeks to protect us from. In the name of freedom we would retaliate with behavior which generates fear and a destruction of security.

 As if to allay an individual’s fears, the argument is made that the right to bear arms is a deterrent  against violence generated in society or more importantly on the world stage. The ultimate weapon to preserve freedom is WAR.  With God at our side, we  resort to killing one another. Hypocrisy takes us full circle.

Then there is the freedom from want which our hypocrisy has seen fit to apply to a limited few. How else can you explain famines and sub human living conditions in so many parts of the world. Hypocrisy screams out that charity begins at home. The problem is that the needs at home are insatiable and only crumbs are left to satiate the wants of others. Still our hypocritical nature would have us believe that half a loaf is better than none.

One can question if in an idealistic society where freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear reign untethered , should be the Utopia we are seeking. Would it be too stagnate? Is some hypocrisy necessary to spice it up? I submit that without the freedom of hypocrisy the other freedoms would wither away. Without a challenge to the norm we become overly complacent.

If the latter is incomprehensible, I must resort to the freedom which I have saved until last, the freedom of speech and expression. The freedom of speech gives me the right to express an opinion, view , belief or fantasy as the case may be. As long as I do not seek acceptance of my views there is no hypocrisy involved. If some prior views are in contradiction with those expressed here, hypocrisy is involved. As long as we think, there are plenty of opportunities for hypocrisy. Putting those thoughts to print is not hypocritical.

(Playing the role of philosopher is much more difficult than I anticipated but a lot more fun than I anticipated and I'm not being hypocritical.)

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