Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Hypocrite and proud of it

How did it happen that hypocrisy became such a big deal? It seems to me that many of our social problems arise because people are afraid they'll be called hypocrites.

Hypocrisy has been called "the tribute that vice pays to virtue". That is, you don't have to be ideal yourself as long as you recognize what the ideals are. So it's OK, say, to tell your kid not to smoke even if you smoke yourself.

Unless you're worried about being a hypocrite, that is. That's a Very Bad Thing.

How do you deal with charges of hypocrisy? Either you change your ways, or you lower your standards. In this case, you can quit smoking, or quit telling the kid not to smoke.

That it's hard to quit smoking is well documented. So the only way to avoid being a hypocrite is to lay off the kid. Give me hypocrisy any day, just keep upholding the standard.

Keep an eye on the ones who are hung up on hypocrisy. The alternative for us fallible human beings is the destruction of standards. You figure out where that leads.

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