What? Is that hypocrisy?

26 Jul

Most of us have called someone a hypocrite before or have been called one ourselves.  I think my earliest memory of having an understanding of the term is when I was a little girl (maybe 8 or 9 years old) and my Dad told me to make sure I always left my shoes by the door and not strewn around the house.  The first thought that came to my mind was “But your shoes are in the hallway!!!” and I tried to refuse his order (tried being the key word here because I quickly realized that if I didn’t do what my Dad said there would be some unpleasant consequence to follow!).  My understanding of hypocrisy was the act of telling someone to do something when you don’t follow your own words. The old saying “practice what you preach” would be in reference to avoiding hypocrisy.

Yesterday I heard a different perspective about hypocrisy that I had never considered.  So before I go into this new perspective, lets take a look at two definitions of hypocrisy that I found in a quick Google search.

1. Hypocrisy: the condition of a person pretending to be something he is not, especially in the area of morals or religion; a false presentation of belief or feeling. — hypocrite, n. — hypocritic, hypocritical, adj.

via hypocrisy – definition of hypocrisy by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia..

2. Hypocrisy is the act of persistently professing beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that are inconsistent with one’s actions. Hypocrisy is thus a kind of lie.

via Hypocrisy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Now from the definitions above I see that my understanding of the word did not actually encompass its whole meaning.  I had not applied the term to pretending to be something you are not.  To make this clear, that would mean that every time someone asks you “How are you doing?” and you think to yourself that you feel like crap, are sad, or are angry, but you reply “I’m good thanks” by definition you are now a hypocrite.  Wow! That would mean that I have been a hypocrite quite regularly since childhood!

This goes far beyond not having actions consistent with our words.  If you refer back to the 2nd definition of hypocrisy, it states that “Hypocrisy is thus a kind of lie.”  Every time that we “put on a mask” to hide what we are really feeling, thinking, or experiencing than we are lying.  Now lots of people will say, and I have said this too, that a little white lie such as this does not do any harm.  But what if it is does? What if by trying to keep people from knowing what is really going on in our lives, we are depriving ourselves and those around us from something we were meant to experience, our true and genuine selves.

So why does this matter? Because if we allow ourselves to be who we really are and let people really know us then we can experience genuine relationships, genuine friendships, and genuine love.  As I have said before, I want to put others before myself and that is not possible if I live a life of hypocrisy.  If I am a hypocrite, than I am putting myself first. I am not being genuine and I don’t want to be a fake.

I don’t want to be hypocrite, do you?


4 Responses to “What? Is that hypocrisy?”

  1. nina July 30, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    answering a social pleasantry like “how are you”, often asked as the person walks by you without even waiting for an answer with “okay, good” or anything positive is not being a hypocrite, you’re just following a social convention.

    Do as I say and not as I do, is the essence of hypocrisy, whether it’s leaving the towel on the floor or being a republican and getting caught with a dead girl or live boy.

    • lovemeanyway July 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

      Hey Nina,

      Thanks for the comment. Yeah, when I heard this new view about hypocrisy one of the examples used was that of the casual greeting. I see your point that this is a social convention and not hypocrisy. However, I think that you can use a neutral response that doesn’t put you in the spot of lying about how your doing if you aren’t doing well and still allows you to stay within the social convention of greetings that aren’t meant to have long drawn out responses, for example saying “okay” instead of “great!” It is a different take on hypocrisy than what I used to think, but after checking out the definitions to see if it really was more in depth than my original view of hypocrisy, I feel that it does go further than just “do as I say and not as I do.” I totally respect your opinion and am glad that you shared it!


  2. bendedspoon August 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    hypocrisy is messy 🙂

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