As a people our hypocrite radar is functioning at an all time high level. We love hypocrisy. We hope for it, search for it, share it, like it, like it, share it, and get to say “See! He/She/It/They’re full of shit! I was right! I’ve been right along!” That's why it feels good. It feels good to be right. The environmentalist who uses a leer jet, the preacher who gets caught with a hooker, the republican who gets divorced again and again and again, the rich liberal, the list goes on and on.
It’s getting boring though, isn’t it? Isn’t anyone else bored?
I find it especially interesting when an artist friend posts a story or jab about the hypocrisy of someone different than themselves as opposed to creating some kind of art with their outrage.
Says the playwright writing a blog. (You don’t get to say that in the comments… the irony of a blog post about the ridiculousness of pointing out hypocrisy on the internet… I beat you to it. Do something else with your razor sharp wit.)
But to be fair, I’ve been working on a play with some friends. We’ve started with the word “hypocrite.” Examining it. Asking why. Wondering if any of us aren’t. Wondering why we so love pointing it out in others.
The writer David Shields (who ruined my life in a wonderful way) wrote an essay in How Literature Saved My Life where he compares himself to George W Bush. He wrote it at a time when Bush was the most reviled. Shields looks for every way that they are the same person. And there’s a lot.
There’s a saying I’ve heard in the twelve step rooms… if you spot it you got it.
You. You’re what you hate.
I am what I hate.
Which isn’t to say I hate myself. I don’t. In fact, I like myself so much that being right is paramount to anything else. For instance, I have a bugaboo now about all of higher education because I got burned by one institution of higher education. An institution that calls itself Christian. So now my radar is set to find any and all hypocrisy committed by institutions of higher education and/or institutions that call themselves Christian.
Like that’s hard.
That’s what’s so stupid. It’s easy. Finding hypocrisy is the easiest thing in the world. Because of course we can’t be what we think we should be. What a boring world that would be, no?
So the next time an article pops up detailing the politician’s tax cheats, the pastor’s porn and drug habit, the environmentalist’s Humvee, the church’s treatment of gays, the punk rocker’s song in a car commercial, whatever it is… Don’t like it. Don’t share it. Don’t pat yourself in the back. You didn’t do anything. You didn’t predict anything. It has nothing to do with you.
At the very least, don’t share it with me. I’m gonna die someday. As we all are. Let’s do something better with our time. Write something. Paint something. Make something. Channel it into something useful. Reflective. Pull a David Shields on it.
For instance… these are just some of the ways I am recently disgraced mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll:
Violence is his preferred metaphor; he doesn't like the perception of a wishy-washy Jesus
I dig his clothes
I want to know what kind of hair cream he uses
He loves sex
He's a great storyteller
He knows how to work an audience
He can deliver a perfect setup and punchline
He loves being in front of an audience, I can tell he has them eating out of the palm of his hand
He's done with subtlety
He despises immaturity
He likes to shock and surprise
He became hugely successful through an image of edginess and being an outsider (the image I crave)
He doesn't believe you can disregard anything in scripture (we have different ways of dealing with this one, but it’s the same starting point)
He lost his job because of his ego
And that's the one that made my hair stand on end.
So who’s the hypocrite?