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Hazards of hypocrisy in public life

Our communities and society are swayed one way or another by political oratory, social media and tweets by righteous-looking and silver-tongued politicians who live differently from what they preach.

Our communities and society are swayed one way or another by political oratory, social media and tweets by righteous-looking and silver-tongued politicians who live differently from what they preach.

Society is plagued with double standards. In various passages of the gospels of Matthew, Luke and Mark, Jesus appears seriously perturbed by the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He reserves his greatest condemnation towards these people who seek justification by appearing righteous and saintly, and yet they live lives diametrically opposite to what they claim.

Why does Jesus point to hypocrisy as the big example of what we should not do, and not some other sin?

During a Mass on June 6, 2017, Pope Francis strongly condemned hypocrisy: “It is not the language of Jesus. Hypocrisy is not the language of Christians; Hypocrisy can kill a community.”

It is hypocritical to promote public virtue and then live a private life of vice, such as greed, corruption, deceit and untruth. We are experiencing this in politics, religion, and while living our ordinary lives. Hypocrisy is about deliberately appearing to be what you are not, or deliberately presenting an appearance that does not match reality. This is not done by chance; there is always a purpose behind it. It could be to attain respect from others, to be voted into government, to keep to your authority and influence.

Corruption, sleaze and unshackled greed are symptoms of politicians, businessmen and ordinary people living double standards

Pope Francis says the price of Christian hypocrisy is that of an ineffective ministry, a discredited Catholic Church. The scandals of paedophilia, double lives of prelates and priests, and the money scandals in religious institutions have done immeasurable harm to the Church. The ministry of the Church cannot function effectively if pastors are discredited and their congregations lose faith in its purpose.

Hypocrisy is woven into the fabric of human lives and ingrained in our culture. Our communities and society are swayed one way or another by political oratory, social media and tweets by righteous-looking and silver-tongued politicians who live differently from what they preach. The language of hypocrisy is one of deceit.

Corruption, sleaze and un­shackled greed are symptoms of politicians, businessmen and ordinary people living double standards. By way of example the Pope said: “I always go to Mass, I belong to this association; but my life is not Christian. I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money”. This is the scandal – to say one thing but to do another.

People who speak and live as a Christian cannot live a double life. Politics is not necessarily deceitful if we believe that the people in politics are honest and sincere. We need to probe the sincerity of their words, whether they reflect their ideals and values. Consider the frankness in the way they express themselves, even if most of the time they are being direct and hurtful because of their truthfulness.

There is only one type of politics that is to the benefit of society; it is the one that goes beyond money and economic growth, and which is directed towards better people and better communities. It is politics with an intergenerational vision rather than aimed at the gratification of all citizens between today and the next election. Politics is not necessarily hypocritical, but hypoc­risy is always to be suspected and condemned.

As hypocrites accommodate their appearance to what they think people are thinking or feeling, we need to understand that “there is nothing that cannot be disclosed, or hidden or made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs”. (Luke 12:1-12).

There is a light within us that we cannot tamper with or hide.

jfxzahra@surgeadvisory.com

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