Facing Our Own Hypocrisy

Dear Jane,
I’d like to know what you think about political scandals such as Ted Haggard and Larry Craig being “outed” as homosexuals? Or Scooter Libby lying about outing Valerie Plame?

When I read Congressional confessions of closeted homosexuality, infidelity, or use of illegal drugs, my first reaction is righteous indignation that others’ hypocrisies are coming to light. I tend to get hopeful that when hypocrisy sees the light of day, we human beings reap the benefit in terms of greater justice and equality.

But I have to admit that there is a darker side to my finger pointing. What I savor is the sweet revenge, which I suspect says something about me and maybe about all of us. Just as presumably a politician is humiliated by exposure of indiscretions, don’t we all have hypocrisies that would publicly humiliate us if exposed? Yes, politicians’ hypocrisies have great influence over the White House, the campaign agenda, and public policy, but don’t our individual hypocrisies also influence others?

If we tell our children to abstain from alcohol and drugs but hide our own chemical histories or current use/abuse, what impact does that have? We may argue that we want them to do as we say, not as we do. But could a politician caught with his/her hand in the cookie jar make that same argument?

If we use an illegal substance but are glad for the arrest of street corner drug dealers, doesn’t this hypocrisy have an impact? Aren’t our prisons overflowing with people who may have touched the contents of that little plastic baggie hidden in our underwear drawer? Even if we don’t support harsh punishment for drug dealing, doesn’t our participation reinforce the problem?

If we are calling an end to war with Iraq but continue to consume half of the world’s fossil fuels, much of it for jetting to distant vacation spots or filling up our SUVs, isn’t there just the teeniest bit of hypocrisy in this?

If we pride ourselves for buying organic fruits and vegetables but demand that they be available year round, hurting both local farmers as well as requiring enormous amounts of fuel to get them to the nearest Whole Foods store, isn’t there something for us to examine?

Of course, I can go on and on with this list but my point isn’t to shame us. My point is to acknowledge that all our hypocrisy causes damage. Rather than cast stones at one another, we could take the hypocrisies and downfalls of politicians as an opportunity to look more deeply into ourselves. We could remove our own veils of hypocrisy, acknowledge our own falls from grace, tell more truths about who we really are, change whatever behaviors we don’t like in ourselves, forgive others for their trespasses and ourselves for ours, and go about living life more consciously and compassionately.

This is my take away from scandals. What’s yours?

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

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