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"On Hypocrisy"
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Bobby Burns spotted a louse on the ribbons of the bonnet of the high-class lady in front of him in church, and the result was one of his memorable poems. His conclusion was
"O would some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It would frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion;
What airs in dress an' gait would lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!"
Discussions of recent events often include the word, "hypocrisy." My own extended thoughts on that word turned up more material than I expected.

"Hypocrite" is from the Greek. The original meaning was "stage actor" [under the mask]. Since then, especially in the New Testament, where the word is used a great deal, it came to mean "a person who pretends to be what one is not; one who pretends to be better than he is, or to be pious, virtuous, etc. without really being so." I came up with four obvious and glaring instances of hypocrisy in our time.

[1] Anti-gay Republicans. All the way from J. Edgar Hoover to Senator Craig of airport men's room fame and Representative Mark Foley, who preyed on Congressional pages. This type turn up often enough that they can hardly be dismissed as isolated aberrations. There is a pattern - virulent gay-bashing, from officials who turn out to be gay.

[2] Anti-abortion activists who call themselves "pro-life." "Pro-fetal-life" would be more accurate. The extremists are capable of murdering doctors and nurses. When questioned the majority of those who call themselves "pro-life" are not at all anti-war. They tend to approve of capital punishment. A large percentage of them oppose government-funded health care for children. They are pro-unborn, but after the fetus is born, they tend not to be "pro-life" at all. The use of the term "pro-life" is pure hypocrisy. They're pretending; they don't mean it.

[3] The moralists. These are the pious ones who assert that there can be no moral behavior without belief in God, that atheists are incapable of moral behavior because they don't believe in God. The evidence is all to the contrary. Sociological studies have indicated that crime and family dysfunction are positively correlated to church membership and church attendance. It is to the point where one dare wonder if church isn't the place where one can learn and practice hypocrisy. I recall saying as much to a church official once. "The church is full of hypocrites," I said. "Always room from one more!" he replied with a grin. I was not amused.

[4] Prime exhibit of hypocrisy - the Acting President states that other countries [in the most recent case it was Pakistan] must have fair and open elections, in which the votes are counted! Can you believe it? Talk about seeing ourselves as others see us! Here's this jerk calling for free and open elections, after having stolen two elections himself, in which it was decided not to count the votes! And he doesn't really approve of free elections abroad either. When Palestine elected Hamas, he didn't like it and set about punishing the Palestinians. And when Lebanon elected Hezbollah, he didn't like that either. He doesn't see irony, doesn't "get it." And I suspect that calling him a hypocrite won't help either. But he really needs to re-read Matthew 23.

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Copyright © 2008 Harry Willson

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