Hypocrisy

March 13, 2008

First off, let me admit that I am a practicing hypocrite and, try as I may, the practice continues. I claim to be an environmentalist and yet I drive cars that average only slightly more than 20 miles per gallon, I use plenty of plastic, I don’t insist on recycled paper, etcetera. I love to shop and buy much more than I need. I love wildlife but a Canada goose had better not land on my pond. I say that I care about the poor and malign the heads of major corporations and yet there are people in my company who earn barely $300 per week.

Eliot Spitzer, the Governor of New York, resigned yesterday after having been caught frequenting a high class prostitution ring. There was an immediate furor over this among some and great glee among others as this seeming paragon of virtue, who had done some real good for people while viciously attacking others, had fallen.

I felt some of the glee because I, hypocrite that I am, love, simply love when the mighty fall. I also felt disappointed because there’s still a part of me that wants to believe there continue to exist these pure defenders of good. It’s disheartening to be reminded that we’re all human and that we all have a dark side. I tend to universalize my thoughts and feelings so I’m pretty sure that lots of people feel as I do; disappointed, gleeful and angry as yet another hero bites the dust.

It has been reported that most of the anger and disappointment about Spitzer’s fall is due to his blatant hypocrisy. I know that I dislike in others that which I dislike in myself so I abhor hypocrisy. As much as I hate to admit it I guess I’m rather typical. My sense is there isn’t much that is more shameful than being exposed as a hypocrite and the degree of disgust at the hypocrisy grows in relation to the distance between the act and the false image of the perpetrator.

Given that we’re all, to some degree, hypocritical it’s no wonder that we are so maddened when others are exposed. To me it seems somehow related to the feelings of the guy in the fox hole when his neighbor is killed. He’s angry, sad, glad and ashamed, sort of how I felt when Spitzer went down.

Posted March 13, 2008

3 Comments

You’ve certinly got the mixed feelings response right and well said.

Philip Pullman uses a trilogy–the Golden Compass, Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass to explore the matter on a global scale–a kind of rewriting of Milton’s Paradise Lost. your points are quicker.

Why is it so necessary to tear down those who might inspire others (not that I have any special love for Spitzer - frankly I dont know anything about him)? There seems to be no haven from the million eyes seeking to expose the baseness in all of us. As long as we are all together on the bottom, we feel ok. What is wrong with us?

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