Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #376 - Hypocrisy and self-realization

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #376 - Hypocrisy and self-realization

Hi Mom, I have bad news.

This news is something that some people already know and accept. For them, the news is not so bad.

For others, the news is bad because they will not accept the news as true.

We're all hypocrites.

Indulge me as I explain how I came to write about this subject today.

I am not a hypocrite for eating this, or am I?
So, Mom, you know how much I like going to Fanfare? For those who are not local or just uninformed, Fanfare is my local comic shop where I have been buying comics since 1985. The owner, Tom Fleming, has always hired smart and interesting people. He used to live with one of my best friends, and we used to all hang out and have good conversations and not always about comics. In recent years, Tom has added to his raft of fine and intelligent managers with new employees and managers who are interesting and fun to talk to. I often distract people from working too much (I try to be respectful of this) or engage in conversations with people (who have become friends) when they are off duty, such as yesterday when I had a very good conversation with my friend Josh Upson, who teaches philosophy and logic at KVCC.

I do not pretend to know much about philosophy. I have read sporadically, more like a diner at a buffet, taking little samples and small portions, nothing too heavy, too extravagant. I know a lot of the names and have fished in their waters a bit -- John Stuart Mill, Hegel, Hume, Descartes, Whitehead, Nietzsche, Kant, Camus, Sartre, Derrida, and so on -- but I am hardly well read.

Our conversation turned to ethics and living an ethical life, which I did not know was a major area of Josh's study. I was telling Josh about Tuesday's blog post -- Hey Mom #371 -- and also about the John Scalzi piece that I found while drilling in (an Ellis-ism) to the subject and Scalzi's other post which is the heart of my content for Hey Mom #371 on the recent murders of black men by police in America. Here's the other Scalzi post: Scalzi's The Four Levels of Discrimination (And You) (And Me Too).

In our conversation, I was reminded of an axiom I devised many years ago: we're all hypocrites. And by "we," I mainly mean Americans, and probably more specifically people in my orbit, speaking of my sample size. I have limited to zero experience with many of the cultures and peoples of the world. I have not traveled widely outside America (or even within the States), and I do not claim to be an expert on humanity. However, from my experience in my world, around people in the Midwest, or even New York City, where I spent a fair amount of time, I have found that everyone is a hypocrite and that many people do not want to admit this truth about themselves.

This page needs more amusement
Essentially, this is Scalzi's point, too, in that article I posted above. In a racist society, we're all racist. In a sexist society, we're all sexist. Apply this down the line to many forms of discrimination, and then, guilty. It doesn't mean we're all doing hateful or violent things. But it does mean that at various levels we have been infected by the overall mindset of the world. I can definitely say that women also perpetuate sexism as I saw on a frequent basis as a women's studies instructor. But I would hazard a guess that racism goes both ways, too, though I know some people who would fight me on this argument, and I might concede the point to avoid my own racism. But I have had confirmation that black people perpetuate many racist ideas against themselves and against others, and so I would hold to the overall contention that the ambient racism of our culture infects us all to some extent.

And these lines of thinking led me to the hypocrisy argument. I have found it nearly impossible to live a 100% ethical life without following the path of Jesus, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Ghandi, and similar leaders, who gave away all earthly possessions, cast off the trappings of society, and tried as much as possible for enlightenment and purity. But these seem like outliers to me. They are ideals not realities. And even Jesus the man, the human, would admit to his own hypocrisy, so I doubt he's immune. To live in the world, or specifically America, and to earn a living, own a home, pay bills, and so on, one must make compromises to one's beliefs. For instance, I could be enjoying a product that I think is the result of fair trade and the result of no exploitation only to learn that it is not.

So, I say, face it down. The first step in recovery is admitting the addiction, right? So accepting that I am a hypocrite was my first step toward better self-realization and the ability to fight it, to question it, to campaign against it, and to help others. I know I will not achieve any perfection. Perfection is not the goal. Being better is the goal. Making good choices is the goal. Finding balance. If I make a bad choice that I know is bad but that I feel is necessary, what's the companion good choice that balances the scales? It's like contrition, like penance. When I "sin" (I really hate that word), then what is the counter-balance? What do I do to reset the Karma scale?

This seems to me to be a good motto for living

But admitting fault is the last thing that some people can do. I have had several people tell me that they are not hypocrites when I express this idea that we are all hypocrites. I remember one individual in particular with whom I had this discussion, someone who was a huge hypocrite about so many things, and who flatly denied her own hypocrisy. So, as I mentioned, admitting one's own hypocrisy is the first step in evolving as an individual, progressing through what Jung called the Process of Individuation.

And so, I propose a spectrum, a sliding scale. On the extreme right end of the spectrum, we have ODE or Oblivious Denial. Here sit those individuals who do not believe that they are hypocrites. Among this group are the unaware, if one never really understands hypocrisy at all, then one is ignorant about it, and thus in oblivion though no less a hypocrite. Also, at this end of the spectrum, we have the ODEs as I have dubbed them: those who are Oblivious in their DEnial.
Must I explain this image?

Denial is a terrible thing. I find it particularly sneaky because often I find myself in denial about being in denial. It's a bit recursive. Someone accuses me of being in denial, and I deny it. "I am not in denial about THAT." But then there is that demonic imp inside me snickering, knowingly chortling that "maybe I am, maybe I am." So, I may make arguments about denial while being in denial myself about such things.

Next, between the ODEs and the middle are varying degrees of hypocrites. To the right, closest to the ODEs are the massive hypocrites. Gargantuan, monolithic hypocrites who are biblical in scale. Apocalyptic-level hypocrites. Some of these people do not care that they are hypocrites, and others do not know in denial as they are about some or all of their hypocrisy. I like to think most people live here between the middle and the far right. Because most people do not fight against their own hypocrisy. They have surrendered, or they just don't care. On this side of the scale are the defeated and the careless, the selfish and the nihilistic, the narcissists and the grotesques, the zombies and the vampires.

Middle is middle. These people have balance. But if content to stay in the middle and not fight, they are no better than those to the right.

To the left of center live those who are truly good. There are people who came into the world in a raw state of great goodness, and they manage to maintain it despite pressures to capitulate to hypocrisy. Closer to the middle, there are greater hypocrites. On this side of the spectrum, we find the fighters, those who fight for goodness. The spectrum fills here with people at varying degrees of goodness, and often people move along this spectrum, moving farther and farther to the left as they shed their hypocrisies.

No one stands at the extreme left of the spectrum. Here is perfection, a selflessness beyond humanity.

Being good is hard. Being evil is easy. People need to make vigilant and disciplined efforts toward being good and doing good things in our world. It's much easier to make judgments, to be biased, to discriminate, to protect one's self in a homogeneous bubble of safety and similarity. But the world is diverse; the world is risky; Nature will eat you.

In the end , these are my main points on this subject.

1. We're all hypocrites. It's unavoidable. Fight it as much as possible.
2. Evil is easier than good. Strive to be good to others. Be nice.
3. Avoid denial but question it all because denial is sneaky.
4. Balance.

So, Mom, do you think I turned off some readers? I hope not.

See you all tomorrow.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 378 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1607.17 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

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