Discussing Hypocrisy in Today's Time

What do we understand nowadays by hypocrisy? Children are taught that hypocrisy is pretending to have some virtues which you do not really have. But, for children, the formal definition is not the most important thing of hypocrisy. The most important point for them, which we will discuss later, is that they are also taught that hypocrisy is something bad. Children understand by “bad” something which is not good for other people, everything that you would not like others to do it to you, being the opposite what we define as “virtue”.

I do not think hypocrisy is something bad. However, how necessary is hypocrisy in our lives? Is hypocrisy the world’s most necessary virtue? Undoubtedly, I think. Every single message we transmit to other people inevitably seeks only our own benefit, direct or indirectly. Therefore, we have an Epicurean hedonist conception of human morality, looking for the maximum pleasure and avoiding pain; but, of course, there are some aspects of human behaviour that may not seem to be at least entirely hypocrite, hypocritical; but in the end, those aspects are may be the most hypocrite of all.

Love: the human most common and, ironically, least understood positive feeling. Love seems to be something pure, something kind and benign, but, in fact, love is like quantum mechanics: beautiful, incomprehensible and extremely unstable. The romantic concept of love (which is not the only idea of it but a present day one) is something that does not suit our world very well. Trying to form half of a whole with your beloved person understanding, trying to put yourself into their skin, is something really exhausting. In fact, love is merely a human natural instinct to avoid loneliness. Nonetheless in love we are able to see hypocrisy even more than anywhere else. In every couple, there is one who tries to impose their authority more than the other. At first, this does not matter, because the other person accepts it, but some time later, that person is tired about it, and confrontation begins. It begins because at that point both of them only want their own way, but of course each one will disguise it as though it were the best for the other. If this was not like this, the human race would have become extinct thousands of years ago. Therefore, hypocrisy is something necessary at least for human survival.

Friendship: in fact, a variation of love, probably less intense, but more representative of what we are talking about. Long-lasting friends are very rare nowadays. This is in part due to the freedom to travel, which makes people go far from home, losing some friends in the way. However, the major part is because of the competitive education we have received. Everybody around us is trying to beat us, and we have to avoid that. Although we can establish friendships, of course, many of them have some interest. We have here the famous John Nash’ paradox of the prisoner: the police arrests 2 criminals who have collaborated, and they are offered, separately, the chance to confess. If one of them confesses and his accomplice does not, the accomplice is sentenced to ten years, and the first will be released. If one confesses and the accomplice remains silent, the first receives the death penalty and will be the accomplice who goes free. If both confess, both will be sentenced to six years. If both deny it, they will be sentenced only to six months for a misdemeanour. Our world seems to be ruled by this. You cannot trust anybody, so you prefer to betray them before they betray you. But, as the paradox shows, if we all trust each other the world would be a better place. Hypocrisy can be seen in this aspect of friendship everywhere, but especially in job matters, where nobody gives anything for free.

Job: supposedly, “invented” to maintain and improve human quality of life, despite being today the main cause of stress, suicide and even divorces. In work we can see the human hatred in its collector’s edition. Here more than anywhere we can see hypocrisy. Dr. Lawrence J. Peter’s Principle says that every person tends to rise in their hierarchy until they reach their incompetence level. Sadly, this does not apply in every case: certain people get a lot higher. Of course, not by own merits, but by having convinced everybody (but not themselves) that people can trust them (hypocrisy), using everybody to their own benefit. All this comes from our upbringing, which not only teaches us to seek our own advantage, as we have mentioned previously, but to deprive others of theirs.

Education: the perfect example of a common good-based education is Chinese and Oriental in general. The problem is that the search for the common good can lead to a devaluation of the individual human life, like Chinese communism. Western education, however, has been traditionally based on capitalism, since it was invented by the Church, like Weber’s thesis in “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, which argues also that some aspects of an ecclesiastic education are very hypocritical, like for example defending an austere life and having an enormous fortune or, at least, seeking it. Weber said that for Christians not doing that would be an insult to God for giving us that possibility and not taking part of it. As McHardy said, “Why do we teach our children to not steal or lie but when we are adults we do exactly the opposite?” Simply, because we know for sure that if we taught our children to be bad, lie and steal, then it is probable that when they grew up they would be exactly the opposite, and they would suffer a lot, because they would be good people in a bad world, supposing that the rest of the people are bad, following Hobbes’s thesis “Homo lupus homini” (Man is a wolf to man), originally stated by Macio Plauto. Hobbes says that this is because our society is based on fear. But, fear of what? Of ourselves, of course. We know what we are capable of doing, and we are scared about what other people may be capable of. So, we need something to get over, or at least forget, this fear. The traditional human answer to this problem has been religion.

Religion: first religions were phenomenological, which means that tried to deify misunderstood natural forces, based on the natural fear of those forces. Believe that offering sacrifices to those Gods would appease their anger was what has made human race forget about that fear for more than 2 million years. After that, when those phenomena were gradually understood, and human race began to feel more confident, they began to ask about the afterlife. Religion has proven to be a life insurance if you do not find sense to your life, but if you are not bound to believe in it, then you will need something more. But in the end, if we remember Weber’s thesis, you do not have really a clear exit. That idea is hypocrisy.

I do think that, much more than religion, hypocrisy is necessary for our lives because we do not want to realize that our world is a bad place. We want to believe what our parents told us, that life is easy and we will be happy,; we want and we need to believe that the world still is a beautiful place inhabited by good people. Yet, in the deepest part of us, we know that this is false. Camus’ interpretation in “The Myth of Sisyphus” tells us that there are three answers to this. First of all, suicide. Well, obviously, if we do not find any sense to our life, suicide is not the best way to search for it. The second one, religion. Then you do not have to worry about your life’s sense, because is dedicated to something higher than you, making your life insignificant. The third one, rebellion. You do not find any sense to your life, but neither does anyone, so rebel against the non-sense of life and help other people to live in peace and harmony. This would work very well if human race were well-intentioned, but I do believe (and 2.5 million years of History shows me to be right) that human race has always tried to destroy itself. Therefore, we need hypocrisy to believe and make other believe that the world is a nice place. So it is demonstrated, for the second time following the love demonstration, that hypocrisy is necessary. Is it a virtue? If we accept Rousseau’s propose of the “natural man” who tries to stay alive, so life is the most important thing, anything that defends life is the most important thing in the world after life itself. Therefore, at this point, is demonstrated that hypocrisy is the world’s most necessary virtue.