By Smriti Haria.
To me, hypocrisy is a special kind of irony wherein people feel entitled to make big moralistic statements that they cannot seem to live up to, with their actions. In other words, their ‘walk’ is in almost a complete contradiction to their ‘talk’. Much to my chagrin and for some I-have-no-idea-what reason, these hypocrites seem to be part and parcel of our lives.
Let’s start big – the government. Where I’m from, our Constitution has stated quite explicitly that we are a secular nation; a blessing for the 1.2 billion people belonging to various religions, considering that 79.8% of our population are Hindus whilst 14.2% are Muslims (as per the 2011 census). India, the country in question, is commonly referred to as the land of Bollywood, diverse food palates and cows. I bring up this last, seemingly unrelated point because an interesting feature of the two most common religions in India, Islam and Hinduism, is their stance on cows. Whilst Hinduism reveres the cow by not eating it, Islam reveres it by eating it.
Our heavily non-secular ruling party has banned the slaughtering of cows and ergo the consumption of beef, supposedly because of the fewer cows available (yes, that must be why I see herds of them randomly on the roads). At a time when religious unity is so important, given the abundance of religion based terrorism attacks, is this what our ‘good days’ (the ruling party’s translated election slogan) look like? Implicit discrimination against a religious minority? How secular is this, dear ruling party? How good are days when you make 170.4 million people feel unwanted and threaten their interests? I suppose you can visualise me shaking my head in exasperation – an accurate picture at that.
The next institution I’d like to call out is our dear, dear friend – the Society. The society possibly takes the cake for being the most hypocritical, being the founder of hypocrisy, and all. I could go on for days regarding my grievances with its hypocrisy, but instead I’ll settle for describing one aspect in detail – double standards; in particular, those of men and women.
I remember seeing the stark difference in YouTube comments on the videos of award acceptance speeches of Sam Smith and Taylor Swift which quite appalled me. While the commenters lauded Sam who dedicated his award to the ‘man who broke (his) heart’, they trash-talked Taylor for doing the same. Consistent much?
More recently, I saw this cartoon on the internet of Indian women bashing a girl wearing a crop top for ‘exposing her midriff’, while their own midriffs lay bare for the world to see, as is the design of the traditional Indian saree. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is merely the tip of the iceberg that I do not wish to barge into; lest I go down like the Titanic, as often happens to those who do so – fall into a never ending pit of argument and circular reasoning.
Let’s not forget the old ‘practise what you preach’ – everybody’s favourite, go-to adage. It’s actually quite amusing when you see people giving lectures wherein they appear, to themselves mostly, as morally superior, and contrastingly carry out actions that go against every bit of unsolicited wisdom they imparted. But you know what’s funnier? Watching them rationalise their actions. I won’t elaborate much on that one. There is nothing more weirdly satisfying than catching it live. Watch out for that comedy show!
But it’s not just collective hypocrisy that is prevalent. Hypocrisy has made its way (down to or from, I’m not sure) the grassroot level – to regular individuals like you and me.
To start with, there is this one person in my life who is appalled if I label her as hypocritical. She recently made statements that so heavily contrasted her actions, I was sure I’d struck gold in my research for this article. This person is always asking me the following questions: how are you, what have you been up to, do you still have that red bottle at home, what colour shirt are you wearing etc. aka the most random, irrelevant, and unnecessarily intrusive questions you could possibly think of. And this very person, in a conversation about the heavily intrusive nature of people in my country, said that she simply detested those kind of people (a comment accompanied by apparent distaste and self-affirming nods). I’m glad that this person is not very introspective; she would drive herself mad thinking about the inconsistency of the things she says and the things she does… I don’t know if this type of hypocrisy is comical or makes me want to bang my head against a wall.
The next instance of hypocrisy on my list involves one of my French teachers. She always stresses on the importance of using the correct pronunciation but the irony of it all is that she pronounces ‘je’ as ‘j’ (as in jug) instead of using the lilting French pronunciation. I suppose that this blunder on her part depicts the unconscious nature of hypocrisy – you’re not always aware when you’re being hypocritical.
But you are very well aware that you’re being hypocritical when you complain to someone that they haven’t spoken to you ‘for ages now’, and when they do finally speak to you, you’re looking through your phone like you have nothing better to do. Are you for real? Of course it’s not like all of us are scrolling through Instagram and simultaneously talking to someone on the phone and yessing and hmming at the appropriate moments. And it’s not like we tell ourselves, ‘That’s obviously not the same thing’. But you can always tell. Especially when you’ve been on both sides of that phone call. Whoops. As a more-or-less objectively thinking individual it frustrates me to no end when people are scrolling through their Instagram or Facebook feed while I spill out my life’s woes to them. And yet, I do the same thing with them anyway.
Wow. Here I am sitting on a moral throne of ivory, all Snow White-esque when I should be incarcerated for my hypocrisy about hypocrisy and my utter inability to prevent it.
I suppose that really teaches you something, doesn’t it? No matter all your grievances and groans of vexation, some things are so deep rooted and omnipresent that it would take a whole planet to change it. Are you with me?