Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Aphorisms on Hypocrisy

People throw around charges of hypocrisy quite a bit, but rarely think about what they are saying when they do it.

The key to understanding what is wrong with hypocrisy is understanding that all human beings, including yourself, tend toward it, and why.

Hypocrisy grows out of a sort of lust or craving for the benefits that follow being good. As Gregory the Great rightly said, hypocrisy is born from vainglory.

Hypocrisy is the simulation of a character one is not working to have, in order to have the benefits of seeming to have it. It is lying by deed.

The person who does not work to be rational, but tries to obtain all the fruits of rationality by labeling himself rational: such a person is a hypocrite.

The person who claims to be just, but makes no effort toward it: such a person is a hypocrite.

The person who claims to be compassionate, but is belied by his deeds: such a person is a hypocrite.

The person who does not care to be holy, but only to seem so: such a person is a hypocrite.

The person who tries to give other people the impression of understanding an issue, a position, a topic, he has made no effort to understand: such a person is a hypocrite.

You will be hardpressed to find anyone who does not exhibit the mask of the hypocrite on some issue.

Who denies that he is ever hypocritical: such a person is a hypocrite. For there is no human being you can find who never tries to have the advantages of seeming good on their own. Such is the very root of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy cannot be rooted out by attacking the hypocrisy of others; it can only be rooted out by attacking the hypocrisy of oneself.

Suspicion of the motives of others is in itself useless against hypocrisy; it is as much a sign of hypocrisy as anything else. If the suspicion is warranted and effective, it is merely because what underlies the suspicion is warranted and effective.

Suspicion is often itself the breeding ground of hypocrisies. By your Bulverisms you shall know that you are hypocritical in your suspicions. By your eagerness to see the masks of others stripped away you shall know that you are hypocritical in your suspicions. By your concern for being right without the effort of being reasonable you shall know that you are hypocritical in your suspicions. By your failing to remember that suspicion is suspicion precisely because its grounds are imperfect -- by this, too, you shall know that you are hypocritical in your suspicions.

Many try to root out the hypocrisy of others out of malice or self-righteousness; but the only non-hypocritical way to root out the hypocrisy of others is to do it in the recognition of the harms the hypocrite's dissimulation inflicts on others.

No one wants other hypocrites to be uncovered more than the person acting hypocritically. By pointing people to the masks of others, the hypocrite may distract them from his own mask.

It follows inevitably from this that the hypocrisy we should most earnestly root out is the hypocrisy of those who seem to agree with us, when they may mislead others as to the truth.

Hypocrites may stand alone, as wolves may live alone; but they most often run in packs.

Of all selfish people, the hypocrite is most selfish; of all parochial people, the hypocrite is most parochial; for they see a gain for themselves at a cost to the souls of others.

What alone opposes hypocrisy is a compassion for others that recognizes the importance of the truth for their good.

To the victims of the hypocrites, we must show compassion; it is their protection that must be our deepest motive. To the hypocrite in his hypocrisy, just anger. To the hypocrite stripped of his mask, pity. For we are all sad little things when, having covered our failings with a lovely appearance, the failings are shown to light of day; and the hypocrite is in the end his own most ravaged victim.

Pity for the hypocrite!--But who easily jeers at a hypocrite stripped of his mask begins before long to be a hypocrite. For who will seek a mask for his sins more than one who has previously attacked others for similar sins? And who will become a hypocrite more easily than the one who shows no pity to those whose faults are uncovered?

Truth of word is a hard thing to maintain; but truth of deed is harder still. Without good will to oneself and others, and a transformation of the mind in love of truth, none of us hypocrites -- and we are all hypocrites somewhere -- will ever be free of our hypocrisies. Until then, be sure our sins will find us out. Maranatha.

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