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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Playing God with Vices and Virtues

As long as mankind has had standards, rules or laws as it relates to behaviors and actions, we will have had people who press hard on others to follow them, while they secretly break them.  There are many ways to describe this behavior.  How we describe this behavior goes by many names (below of which are but just a few):
  • Duplicity
  • Hypocrisy 
  • Sanctimoniousness
  • Cognitive dissonance

For the sake of discussion, let's just call out a few examples of this behavior:
  • Publicly preaching tolerance (religious, racial, sexual...), while privately condemning or discriminating those whom they preach tolerance about.
  • Railing about the depravity of gambling, while going in the gas station and picking up a handful of lottery tickets.
  • Lifting oneself up as a champion and protector of kids, while engaging in inappropriate behavior with kids on the side.
  • Calling for others to conserve energy or water while extravagantly using them.

Most people see this behavior as hypocritical, which it is.  I believe many see this type of behavior as being contemptful towards perceived 'lessors', which it can be.  While this behavior can fit both of those perceptions, it can also be an indication of deeper psychological or spiritual problems.  I believe a person who engages in what we see as hypocritical behavior--do as I say and not do--can get to a point where they are so far passed the appreciation of their hypocrisy and consideration of contempt.  They can get to a point where what we are seeing is a spiritual or psychological battle played out before us.  From my observations, I see this play out in one of two ways:
  1. Feeling like they are pushing so hard to help others or society at large that are entitled to not having to fight the struggle.  Mindset includes such thoughts as:
    • My fight against the ill is so draining or taxing that I simply don't have the energy to fit the temptation in my own life.
    • As someone who is heavily involved in fighting the ill or vice, I am familiar with how not to take it to an extreme, but the public or groups I'm talking to not so much.
  2. Feeling guilty for having that vice or behavior rule their life that they have to 'atone' for it somehow.  Mindset includes such thoughts as:
    • I know I am a bad person for engaging this vice, but if I prevent others from doing so, then on the moral/spiritual scale, I will have done more good than bad.   Therefore, will have atoned for my own behavior/failings re: this vice.
    • I'm not such a bad person.  Sure I may have this problem--deviancy, for example--but when you consider what good I've done for society in helping others, why its small in comparison.
    • How could I be that kind of person--bigoted or intolerant, for example--after all look at who I associate with, treat well or champion.

In AA, such behavior is referred to as "stinking thinking".  The way I see it, in essence a person who engages in this behavior or thinking is effectively playing God with their vices and virtues, hence the title of the blog post.  Effectively, they are engaging in one or more of judgments in their own life that we normally think it is the role of one's Higher Power to determine:
  • Judging their own inherent goodness and therefore what they are 'entitled' to.
  • Judging, by themselves, their own strengths and weakness rather than including or being open to their HP for wisdom.
  • Judging what 'sins' they need to atone for and how to do it on their own terms rather than on their Higher Power's.
  • Judging or determining what is a 'real' sin and what is a big deal.

Anyway, just my thoughts for the day and what I feel I have been led to say.  While we may be right in determining a person to be a hypocrite and maybe contemptful based on their 'do as I say, not do behavior', as I spelled out above, I really do believe sometimes the psychology of 'hypocritical' behavior shows a deeper spiritual problem.  Namely, playing the role of God with virtues and vices and the associated rationalizations and thinking that goes along with that.

Whether you agree, disagree or are somewhere in between on this point, I appreciate you taking your time to read my thoughts and analysis on this subject matter.  My goal with the analysis in my posts isn't to be 'always right', bur rather to perhaps give an alternative or less considered perspective.

Thanks for reading,

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