Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Practicing Is Not Hypocrisy

  1. 1.
    the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.
    synonyms:dissimulation, false virtue, cant, posturing, affectation, speciousness,empty talk, insincerity, falseness, deceitdishonestymendacity,pretenseduplicity;

    I've had a lot of thoughts running through my mind lately. Often we accuse people of being hypocrites for not living up to the standards they preach. The last couple of years, I've put a lot of personal feelings on my blogs and at times on facebook. I have preached love, compassion, and kindness, not because I'm good at it, but because I want to be. I have never been one to say the church I attend is full of hypocrites, perhaps because I recognize that in a sense everyone is a hypocrite about something. 

I admire those in my life whose very actions, not their words preach kindness. St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying, "Preach the gospel always, and when necessary use words." There are those of us who are better with actions and those of us who are better with words. But by practicing and failing, we learn. I am still and often falling short of the "moral standards and beliefs" that I write and talk about. I can go from feeling love in my heart to anger in a matter of seconds If the right or wrong things are said. I still am incapable of having a political discussion even with friends who I respect, but differ from dramatically. Knowing this about myself, I often retreat from, rather than defend my position. At times when I feel I must say something because my silence would imply agreement, my heart races, my blood pressure raises, and I have to sometimes say a little prayer to calm down. Am I better at civil discourse today than I was a few years ago? Not really, and yet I will continue to practice the virtue of civil discourse. 

When I read the definition of hypocrisy, I think there has to be a purposeful deceit involved,"the practice of claiming." This is where most of us really don't fit the definition. We usually recognize better than anyone else our moral failings. True hypocrisy would be when we preach something in order to deceive someone. We often label people as "used-car salesman," when they try to sell us something without telling us the whole truth. Intention seems to be a part of the duplicity. My hope is that I never deceive someone, and especially not intentionally. 

Why this post? My intention with my writing is to persuade myself into becoming a more spiritual, enlightened, moral, and kind person. My intention is to remind others of the need for a kinder and more forgiving world. My intention is not to make others believe that I have achieved any kind of spiritual high-ground. Knowing my weaknesses better than anyone, I know I will continue to fall short. I may fail to notice someone in need. I may notice, but still fail to help someone in need. I may pause to help, but only on my terms, ultimately failing to help their true need. But sometimes, not often enough, I might get it right. And in that, I will keep practicing.