Humans and hypocrisy both begin with the “h” letter. Coincidence or not?
One dictionary defined a hypocrite as “a person who indulges in hypocrisy.” What? I looked elsewhere. Another dictionary definition explained the word as a person who pretends to have principles, virtues, moral or religious beliefs that he or she does not actually possess. Not quite the meaning I was looking for either.
Internet example: You’re a hypocrite if you criticize other people for wearing fur, but pull out your big mink jacket as soon as it gets cold. Yes, that’s it. A person who does not walk his or her talk.
I remember a news story about a person who rallied against killing cows and eating beef. Ohhh! She was caught on video gobbling a hamburger at a fast-food place — a permanent record of her act of hypocrisy.
Ouch! Sometimes I act like a hypocrite — like when I write a column about forgiveness, and then I hold a grudge or think about revenge. Or when I compose an article about patience, and then become frustrated in the grocery line because I’m in a hurry. When I was much-much-much younger, I cut the expiration date off the bottom of a coupon and used it. After church the next Sunday, I felt guilty (and hypocritical), so I paid the quarter back to the store manager and confessed. Of course, I’m not going to put my big acts of hypocrisy in print — a permanent record.
Just admit it. Sometimes you act like a hypocrite, too. If you deny it, what does that make you? A hypocrite.
Some hypocritical people call out others on the same mistakes they made in the past — with malicious motives. Do you believe you are perfect and never wrong? Then you are being hypocritical because no earthly human being is perfect.
Politicians are notorious for their hypocrisy, but a preacher who proclaims piety prior to being caught up in a scandal is labeled a Judas (and a hypocrite). We expect politicians to act like hypocrites, but not preachers.
“Hypocrites in the church? Yes, and in the lodge and at the home. Don’t hunt through the church for a hypocrite. Go home and look in the mirror. Hypocrites? Yes. See that you make the number one less,” proclaimed Billy Sunday, a preacher of yesteryear.
A 2017 article in The Atlantic featured a study, and journalist Olga Khazan wrote, “People hate hypocrites, as an interesting recent study from Yale University researchers found, not because their beliefs and actions are inconsistent, but because their moral proclamations imply — falsely — that they are more virtuous than they really are.”
Some cultures in other countries eat dogs. That’s horrible and disgusting! Wait a minute — Americans raise and eat their 4-H animal projects: cows, goats, rabbits, pigs, lambs, chickens. Americans kill and eat turkey, squirrel, dove, deer. But, dogs are pets! Not the dogs eaten in other lands. Americans, are we being hypocrites? Can a pet pig be as lovable as a dog? If the answer is yes, then why do we eat bacon?
“Hypocrisy is the natural state of the human mind,” declares Robert Kurzban, author of “Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite.” People develop contradictory beliefs to navigate social society.
Alas, all human beings are flawed. We use defense mechanisms to protect our egos, play the blame-shame game and scrutinize the same defect in others that we find in ourselves.
But after reading my column, you have arrived in the hypocrisy awareness zone. Admit it. Accept it. And change how you think about it.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.