Nothing irritates a hypocrite more than hypocrisy. Perhaps Americans hate hypocrisy so much because it is knitted into our DNA. Hypocrisy is our national genetic flaw, a mutation which began at our conception.
The latest example of “deplorable” behavior by Donald Trump, the disgustingly sexist banter that was caught on a live mic back in 2005, has once again set social media aflutter. Any observer with a modicum of impartiality can see hypocrisy screaming from right and left alike. Left wingers are quick to jump on Trump but, admittedly, have a history of aligning themselves with womanizing leaders within their own ranks and somehow managing to put up with it. Right wingers are quick to bring up the philandering of Bill Clinton and how Hillary has stayed with him (presumably for political reasons) while supporting Melania Trump for doing the same.
Actually, nearly every hot-button political issue is rife with hypocrisy. Most anti-abortion people are pro-death penalty and vice-versa. That’s just one example.
None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who knows America’s history.
Hypocrisy sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower.
When the Pilgrims left England they were searching for religious freedom. They no longer wanted to be forced to worship the way the Anglican Church mandated. So, they set up a colony where they could be free to worship in their own manner. It didn’t take them long to set up a church in America that forced people to do it their way. If you didn’t, you couldn’t vote. Soon, people were being kicked out of the colony for not doing religion properly. We have that controversy to thank for Rhode Island.
Hypocrisy is written into America’s “birth certificate.”
The document that gave birth to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, the Declaration of Independence, is shrouded in hypocrisy. “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal…” Those are some of the most important words ever written, yet, something about them rings hollow when you realize that of the 56 men who signed that document (yes, all men), 41 owned other human beings. The primary author of the document, Thomas Jefferson, owned over 600 and only freed a grand total of seven of them.
In the first decades of our existence as a sovereign nation, most states in America had laws that allowed only white male property owners to vote. In other words, you were only “equal” if you were a white male with some wealth. The Constitution provided that only 3 of every 5 slaves would be counted in the census figures so, if you were one of those here against your will, not only were you not equal, you were essentially only 60% human.
Eventually, voting became a more democratic process, of course. Black men finally got the right to vote with the 13rh Amendment in 1865. Women would have to wait much longer, until the 19th Amendment in 1920 (there are still women alive today who were born in an age when their mothers could not vote).
Yet, anything resembling true “equality” for women and minorities would not come until the era of my birth. And it can be argued that equality is more real on paper than in practice.
America gets it right, on paper. Getting it right in practice continues to be a day to day struggle.
I’m not laying all this out to dump on America. For all her flaws, I still think we have the greatest nation on earth. There are few other nations in which I would ever consider living. But I want us to live up to the ideals we set forth on paper.
There are few things America hates more than hypocrisy, yet, it is also one of the hardest things to self-police. One of my favorite bible verses is Luke 6:42 which says, “How can you say to your brother, ‘let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?” We Americans are really great at seeing the specks in the eyes of others while remaining oblivious to the two-by-fours in our own.
Maybe the reason we are so quick to point out hypocrisy in others is that, on some deep-seated subconscious level, we are lashing out at ourselves; at our own genetic flaw. Perhaps my writing about it is my own way of lashing out against the hypocrisy within myself…
We can be better. We can be so much better.