Monday, August 28, 2017

Hypocrisy and its misuses

My AZIndiaTimes column for July.


I hate hypocrites. Atleast I did until I realized how big a hypocrite I was. I wear gemstones while publicly questioning the validity of its preached uses. I do not really believe in Drishti Dosha but after a great day spent, I ask Amma to remove Drishti. I profess people to boycott products that are manufactured by torturing animals yet I relish my Lassis and Omelettes. I waft lyrical about the need to stand-up to arbitrary authority while I continue to bribe policemen or ignore a fight on the road where ten people beat-up one person. I tell young people to chase their dreams and follow their passions while I happen to be yet another Code Coolie constantly asking myself if I’m just being lazy. What is going on here?

We live in an age of authenticity. Every facet of our popular culture tells us to embrace our true self and give a middle finger to whatever anyone chooses to think of our behaviour. I bought that idea completely. My physical appearance and words give the impression that I am an independent, free thinking individual who is dictated only by the whims of his conscience. My actions, nevertheless, point in the opposite direction. For all my ranting and yelling, cribbing and crying, I am just like many- I neither have the courage nor the strength to swim against the tide and test my ideas and assumptions against reality.

“Inside every cynic, there is a disappointed idealist” -George Carlin

Truth be told, I’m not even an idealist as much as a naive romantic. Dim-witted too. I thought life was going to be a joy ride. I tell people life doesn’t owe us anything. Yet, I feel pissed when something does not go according to plan. I think we most firmly negate beliefs we are most obsessed with. Like how self-deprecating humour is not humility; It is a reaction of people who think they are smart enough to know that arrogance removes the sheen of their image. I rage so many tirades against hypocrisy ( or for that matter capitalism, globalization, English-speaking urban class, software etc. ) because I know I have been immensely benefited by all these happenings and yet don’t want my social circle to think I had these advantages- First-world problems. It is astounding to see the depth to which hypocrisy has seeped into my being so much so that I stopped questioning the validity of my beliefs and the reason for my actions a long time ago.

“Hypocrisy is the homange vice pays to virtue” -Francois de La Rochefoucauld

These thoughts, and as an extension the questions I have been asking myself, came when my girlfriend jokingly commented on how big a hypocrite I was for the huge disparity between my words and my actions. The reason I was so blind to my own failings is probably because, like they say, “we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions”. I was also reading about Karma Siddhantam around that time and it had raised interesting questions in my head about the Karmic effects of thoughts vs actions. The law says that a person should be judged by his actions and not his thoughts. In that case, all the best intentions in the world will not bring about my salvation. Like the authors argue in The Knowledge Illusion, Thinking evolved because we had to construct a model in our heads that corresponds in critical ways to the way the world is. Thought is for action. Action without thought is animalistic and thought that does not manifest into action is pointless.

Hypocrisy arises, to put it dramatically, because of a conflict between the head and the heart. The heart simply believes; The head wants rational explanations. And when there is a disagreement, we become superstitious, or fake smile at people, or pretend to not see unpopular colleagues, or profusely promise people we’ll help them and not take their calls. It is not pleasant but it has become so inherent to modern-day, urban living that we don’t stop to think about it. Hypocrisy is neither about conviction nor confusion but about courage. It is easy to spew well-meaning objectives; Impossibly tough to stand by them. Most adults give up the first part and learn to live false lives. I’m glad I’m still at juncture when tough thoughts continue to crop up. Choosing how to live though is where the battle will be won or lost.

“..and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” -Albus Dumbledore

1 comment:

Deekshith Vemuganti said...

This, by far, is the most searingly honest post you've written. Finally some old mojo of yours peeped in.