3/22/2005

Hypocrisy, vice or virtue?

Of all the undesirable human traits, hypocrisy is perhaps the most hated. Everybody despises a hypocrite. So ugly is hypocrisy that we grimace at the first whiff of it. It's visceral. While we overlook most shortcomings, we reflexively point out another's hypocrisy. We hate it too much to let it go unnamed.

I part ways with most of the human race when it comes to hypocrisy. I love it. Being able to hold two opposing opinions at the same time is a mark of intelligence and sophistication. I pride myself on it.

And hypocrisy is convenient, too. I use hypocrisy all the time to get the things I want. For example, when I'm at the gym, I believe that good looks and a trim, athletic physique are everything and that people will like me more when I attain the standard of physical perfection. That gets my lazy ass pumping double-time on the elliptical trainer. And with every pound of flab I burn, I feel that much more superior to those fat slobs consoling themselves that they're “kind and considerate,” “educated,” “living life with integrity and purpose,” or that they have “a great sense of humor.” I can be the egotistical, self-centered prick I truly am. Hey, fatty. You can't see a great sense of humor in the mirror.

But when I get home, I want to ravage a pack of Fudge Stripe Cookies without an overwhelming sense of guilt throwing a wet blanket on my cookie party. So I remind myself that beauty is only skin deep, that good looks and a great physique don't make you a better person, and that the real value of a man is what lies within. So I load myself up full of cookies and that bullshit I just wrote, and I get what I want. It's great. I can be the self-indulgent glutton I truly am.

With a little practice, you can do the same thing with your career, money, or religious convictions. When my 401-k was soaring, money made the man. You were only as big as your stock portfolio. Happiness itself was for sale, and the vendor ran a cash-only operation. Then, sometime in 2000, my 401-k became a 201-k. Nowadays, money doesn't matter much. It can't by you happiness. That's for sure. And you can't measure a man's worth by his financial position. Nowadays I put more stock into the number of comments in my blog than the dollars in my bank account. Besides, rich people are the scourge of the Earth. Who's rich? Anybody with more money than me. I'm glad I've discovered how meaningless money is.

Likewise with religious convictions, hypocrisy works for me. I find Christianity a fine code of ethics to apply to my neighbors; however, I find it a bit too constrictive for my own lifestyle. Come on. Am I supposed to live the rest of my life without bearing false witness or coveting a neighbor's wife? Just as long as other people live by those standards, I'll be fine.

When the boss is around or when a performance review is pending, I live for my company's mission statement. When I need to call in sick because it's opening night for Weekend at Bernie's 2, corporate America can kiss my counter-culture loving ass. I'm going to see that shiznat. The work will still be there tomorrow.

Hypycrisy has been a good friend of mine since the late 1980s. When I was 18, I marched in a pro-choice rally. I went with an attractive girl with whom I wanted to copulate. A political cause which secures people's option to eliminate the consequences of casual sex seemed like a good setting for seducing the girl. So we drove to Phoenix and marched. I even gave a couple of pro-life squares the finger. I assured my companion I had a deep, personal commitment to her reproductive rights. Later we engaged in sexual congress. Score! But now that I'm married and settled into domesticated bliss -- and more important, now that I've had a vasectomy -- I've become pro-life. Hey all you young people: Keep it in your pants!

I encourage the reader to give hypocrisy a chance. Consider what it can do for you.

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