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Hypocrite November 27, 2006

Posted by K in contemporary, Faction, Life.

Lona had a terrible day in school. And for a change, it had little to do with her name. Much as she failed to realise why her otherwise sane parents would name her, their only child, Lona(!!), she had to acknowledge that today was a horrible day for other reasons.

Lona had a secret: she liked school. As far as secrets go, this was hardly worth the effort- afterall, it wasn’t as if she smoked or drank- but if you considered the fact that she was a teen almost out of her teen years, you would understand why it would have to be kept under wraps or risk being excommunicated. Admitting that one liked an occasional class was as far as the rope would stretch; beyond that, snap! You were on your own. And much to her dismay, she found she wasn’t ready to be on her own as yet.

The corollary to liking school, was liking and even hero worshipping teachers. Not all, mind; there is always the distinction between admiration and arse licking, and she for one clearly saw the line. Teachers, for her, were a special species. They were the answers to earth’s problems. They would change the history of mankind, they would nudge a steadily unequal world into a more equal set up. They saw the wrongs and the wronged, and told you to see as well. Weren’t they amazing? What was there NOT to like in them? She identified with what they said (never mind that further aged her by forty odd years(or so they said))

Her day shattered when her idols fell down, nay, crashed, clumsily down, shattering into a million pieces that she neither could, nor had the inclination to, find and put together. What do you do when the ground beneath your feet shifts and gives an almighty lurch? What do you hold on to, when the other pillars also suddenly become suspect? Do you knock on wood, testing for solidity? Or do you tremble like a fool? Lona trembled. Fool! She cursed herself. Why should hypocrisy leave her school intact? It plagued the world didn’t it? But but but! Screamed a voice in her head, they speak against hypocrisy! They condemn hypocrisy! HOW CAN THEY BE HYPOCRITES THEMSELVES!

Lona looked coldly out of the window. The conversation she overheard, played back in her head. “He’s from an OBC school.” No effort to keep the voice down, no acknowledgement of the fact that from whichever angle one viewed that statement, it ought to make the utterer crippled with guilt, ought to make her stay curled in bed for the rest of her life.

The rope snapped.



1. diana - November 27, 2006

very effective… very.

2. sporadicblogger - November 27, 2006

elaborate please:)

3. glandheim - November 28, 2006


I think it is very effective, too. Rather than elaborate on the effectiveness (excellent prose, to begin with, excellent use of metaphor, etc. not to mention, a compelling character created in just a few lines), I choose to provide a counterpoint.

Neal Stephenson wrote a magnificent book a few years ago ((C)1995) called “The Diamond Age.” In the book there was a discourse on hypocricy that I found very illuminating. It takes place as a conversation between two characters, Finkle-McGraw and Major Napier:

You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices,” Finkle-McGraw said. “It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticise others-after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism? … Now, this led to a good deal of general frustration, for people are naturally censorious and love nothing better than to criticise others’ shortcomings. And so it was that they seized on hypocrisy and elevated it from a ubiquitous peccadillo into the monarch of all vices. For, you see, even if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever as to the correctness of his views or the morality of his behaviour-you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another. Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy.

And later:

We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy,” Finkle-McGraw continued. “In the late-twentieth-century Weltanschauung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception-he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course, most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time it’s a spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing.”

“That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code,” Major Napier said, working it through, “does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code.”

“Of course not,” Finkle-McGraw said. “It’s perfectly obvious, really. No one ever said that it was easy to hew to a strict code of conduct. Really, the difficulties involved-the missteps we make along the way-are what make it interesting. The internal, and external struggle, between our base impulses and the rigorous demands of our own moral system is quintessentially human. It is how we conduct ourselves in that struggle that determines how we may in time be judged by a higher power.”

4. sporadicblogger - November 28, 2006

Thank you, thats very kind.
The extract you have quoted is very interesting.
What do you think of hypocrisy? I’m asking because I’m the person in the story, if you haven’t guessed 🙂

5. diana - November 28, 2006

What? YOU! You broke that kid’s heart! :-O what OBC kid were you talking about anyway?

Sigh, not my business. Catchy name, innocent kid with AWFUL secrets (and they are awful *looks down on you* lol)….. a compulsion connected to her name (cute!) … exaggerated heighted description of “fall”… highly undeserving fallen hero, and fitting cold betrayed ending. That made the story effective for me.

*crushes the socio-cultural analysis and chucks it in the bin*

6. glandheim - November 29, 2006

What do I think of hypocricy? That’s why I included the extract from “The Diamond Age.” Until I read that passage, I had only thought about the first type, “someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception.” I despise this form of hypicricy, and the politicians and religious leaders who used it to gain power and money at the expense of people who can ill afford it.

The second kind is more subtle, and the point is valid. “because of moral relativism”… “if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done.”

Here we have to tread carefully, because I think the best of us set impossible goals. Are we to accuse them of hypocricy because they fall short of their goals? When they are people whom we really admire, like certain spiritual leaders or teachers at school, we can be really disappointed. I guess the trick is to figure our which of the two categories they fall into. Did we elevate them because of our respect, and they failed to meet our expectations, or did they elevate themselves in order to cynically gain influence over us?

It’s a difficult call to make sometimes.

I figured you were the person in the story, and I can identify with you. When I was in secondary school, I deliberately learned about things I didn’t care about, like football and baseball, and deliberately learned to mispronounce words and use improper grammar, to disguise my intelligence so I could fit in. I was the guy who would hide a physics book inside the cover of a “dirty” magazine.

And teachers were a special species for me. They made me feel good for being smart.

At the same time, we had one hour a day of religious school called “seminary” in a building off-campus, across the street. I was raised LDS (Mormon). I regularly got thrown out of my seminary classes by my teacher because I said exactly the same kinds of things in seminary as I would say in a Calculus class, or a Literature class, i.e., I would give my own, considered answers rather than regurgitate what I was being taught.

It isn’t easy, but you are certainly not the first person to be tormented by their peers for being in love with knowledge, rather than popular culture.

I don’t like to give advice. I’m more into sharing experience. What has worked for me will not necessarily work for you.

But I have found it useful to think of myself as a cultural anthropologist studying my own culture. To do so, I have to blend in, not draw attention to my differences, earn people’s trust, and learn why they behave the way they do. Then I can try to put my observations together with what I know of sociology and psychology and try to make sense of it.

It is possible to participate and still remain apart, through that simple mental gymnastic. Is that hypocricy? I don’t think so. You are so apart from your peers that you really are in the position of a cultural anthropologist trying to make sense of them.

You can embrace what sets you apart and use it as an opportunity to learn. I’m still trying to figure out why my the people I live around act like such idiots. There are good, solid historical, cultural and psychological reasons, but jeez, when is our society going to grow up?

A final note. I’m 57 years old and I still can’t live up to my standards. They are a moving target. I am not trying to achieve the same things now as I was when I was 18, but I failed to achieve most of those.

I’m not as honest as I would like to be, I’m not as kind or generous. Sometimes I yell at people I care about. I let myself be driven by demons that should have died decades ago.

Am I a hypocrite because I fall short of my target, or am I just a human being who is trying to do right, and not doing as well as I want?

7. sporadicblogger - November 29, 2006

Thanks, again, for your post, you write well, and not just in a literary sense.
I’m lucky that I have friends who are similar to me, we like school,actually college, and are proud of it 🙂 However we are still apart from the rest of the typical, or stereotypical, teenage crowd, but that doesn’t bother us, because we respect what i important to us.
I understand what you are saying about hypocrisy, and that is a sort of hypocrisy that I, too, am a victim of. This is different. This was a case of a teacher espousing equality in a classroom and out of it, making a blatant racial statement. I found that to be quite incongruous and am wondering whether my time spent in her classrooms are now futile, whether its a hollow lecture. ]
Today, however, my friend came up with a solution, and I am less devastated now 😉

8. glandheim - November 29, 2006

I knew you were in college. I compared your experiences to my secondary school experiences because I was lucky enough to go to University where everyone was an outcast, a misfit, and smart as hell, and I didn’t have to act stupid.

I don’t know what your teacher said and I have no reason to defend her.

I do know that because of my age, and the culture in which I was raised, there are certain words and phrases that roll of the tongue automatically, if I do not watch myself. I consider myself neither sexist or racist, but both were so deeply embedded in my culture that it embodies itself in the language itself.

An obvious case is the use of the male gender to refer to both sexes. But there are racial slurs and sexist statements that my tongue does not recognize as such, even though my mind does, and I find myself in a state of horror when I say them. Usually they are meant in jest, but the implications are not funny at all.

All I can do is try to be aware, and hope those, like you, grow up without these kind of built-in reflexes, so you don’t have to consciously overcome them.

Thanks for telling me I write well. It means a lot to me:)


9. sporadicblogger - December 2, 2006

Diana, for some reasin, some of your comments end up in akismet spam! I just recovered that second comment of yours. I was the kid, bits of it (lots of loaded fiction as well, heh heh. Mostly the exxagerated alienated bit), but the incident and the terrible-ness of it existed 😦
Will tell u on msn. Net is too-all there,lolol!

10. diana - December 2, 2006

yeah I made a post about akismet on my blog. It was catching me out when I posted comments on my own blog, lol. Maybe someone reported me… heheh. Anyway I know you were the kid I was just teasing you. You come out really strongly when people do something unexpected (and who would know it better than me). When do u get on msn? I wanna know what happened to make you lose your faith in teachers (WHAT? I still don’t believe that happened lol) I don’t do MSN much anymore (can you believe it). Email me 🙂 I love email again.
drhiji_jc@yahoo.com hehe


11. sporadicblogger - December 4, 2006

yeah, i’ve not been on msn for ages either. and if i go, i check mail and log out. will mail. Have assignment tomorrow.

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