The Hypocrite Hunt: Believing One Thing But Doing Another

November 21, 2012  |  

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I remember exactly how I learned what a hypocrite was. I was young, maybe 7 or 8, sitting in my grandmother’s room, listening to one of her mini rants. In a state of mild annoyance, she declared with disdain that someone, probably my grandfather, her ex husband and favorite target, was such a hypocrite.

That was new word for me. So I asked her what it meant. She thought for a second and patiently told me that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does the complete opposite. Well! That’s interesting. Though, I didn’t realize it at the time, my grandmother had just dropped some serious knowledge about human nature on me. From that moment on, I was on a hypocrite hunt. And though I’m sure my grandmother didn’t mean for it to go down this way, it didn’t take long for me to find my first hypocrite, living within the walls of my own house.

I was eavesdropping on a conversation my mother was having about one of her co workers/associates. I’d seen these two together. Though there was something about them that was noticeably different, they seemed like they at least enjoyed each other’s company; but here was my mother talking about how tacky this woman was. I’d found one. My first hypocrite, my very own mother.

Not wanting to accept the fact that my mother was this terrible person, I went back to my grandmother for clarification. I told her the story, how my mother had talked about this woman but hung out with her as if they were friends. Then I asked, Does that make her a hypocrite? Again, my grandmother paused; but true to her nature, kept it real and solemnly said yes.

I would eventually come to learn that there was no need for me to be on such a hunt. There are hypocrites all around us, everyday.

There’s this teacher in my hometown who practically leads a double life. Some people know her as a devout Christian, a married woman who adheres to all the tenants of the Bible, attends church regularly and believes in educating her two children in the ways of the Lord. But in reality, she only wears a ring to hide the fact that both of her children were born out of wedlock, she lives with a man she has no intention of marrying and describes herself as a nymphomaniac. (True story.)

Though this woman lives a life of hypocrisy most sane people can’t even begin to relate to, many of us would be lying if we said that we always act according to our beliefs. Personally, I know I’ve wasted plenty of time judging people or writing them off entirely because they weren’t living according to my standards. As a Christian, I believe that’s not my job; but that doesn’t stop me from trying to analyze folks.

The truth is there was never a need for me to go on a hypocrite hunt. Almost everybody’s a hypocrite. It’s human nature for us to seek pleasure, whether in the moment or long term, and if that pleasure, just so happens to conflict with our core beliefs, we’re not always evolved enough to adhere to our higher nature.

These days, the only time I search for hypocrisy, it’s within myself and not others.

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