The single trait that is common among all humans irrespective of his or her social, economical, religious, regional, colour or any other status is hypocrisy. Dictionaries define hypocrisy as “the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc., contrary to one's real character or actual behaviour, esp. the pretence of virtue and piety”. In simple practical terms it means believing (and preaching) one and practising another. It is said that ‘to err is human’ but a better one would be ‘to be hypocritical is genuinely human’. All human beings are hypocritical and it can be easily proved that it is impossible to maintain life without being hypocritical. This would inevitably lead us to the conclusion that all human beings ever alive or yet to be born are hypocritical. Yes, it is a fact that all ordinary, abnormal, outstanding and even divine human beings are indeed hypocritical. A full form of the altered saying would be ‘to be hypocritical is genuinely human and to admit it is indeed divine’.
To analyse our own character and realise the hypocritical traits will not be a difficult exercise. I am sure every one can and should do it, if we are to improve as human beings. More difficult would be to identify the trait in others. And dangerous would be to attempt the same in the case of our own leaders, prophets and even in God whenever and wherever incarnated in human form. The more one preaches the more difficult it is to live up to it. This very simple logic makes it almost impossible for any of our leaders and preachers to live up to their preaching. Most of them succeed in covering up their hypocrisy (sometimes for centuries and centuries) does not relieve them from the essential trait of mankind. And even if it is blasphemous, the rational followers are bound to discover and question their hypocrisy sooner or later.
It would be an interesting exercise to look for reasons as to why all humans are invariably hypocritical. One need not waste much time in this. It is widely believed and accepted that human beings are the only animals that can laugh when there is grief or pain inside and vice versa. Any tiger would attack if it is stoned but a politician or preacher can shake hands with a terrorist who has shot him. Similarly, a dog will defend his master against the attack of an enemy, but most human beneficiaries of human kindness will inevitably turn against the benefactor. Human history contains more stories about betrayal than sacrifice for benefactors. In the contemporary world, many political dramas in different countries and the relationships among various countries are classic examples of hypocritical attitude of the leaders and nations. Most international leaders are talking in different tones at home and abroad. And eventually what they do will be totally different.
Hypocrisy among mankind has its origins from time immemorial. Among the first humans, those who said that they know the truth of life were the first hypocrites. The vulnerable among the group who believed in these words made them the leaders and preachers. Hypocrisy is always about knowledge and the clever are always the most hypocritical. Claiming to possess the knowledge about God has always been a favourite theme for such people. Man’s inherent quest for the unknown always makes him easy prey for the hypocritical preachers who are clever enough to hide their ignorance. Most of them making up their ignorance by gimmicks and glowing robes are common sights in the present day world. The truly great are silent but the gimmicky always attain sainthood.
Some of the well known hypocrisies of mankind are very interesting to analyse. People who advocate ahimsa or non-violence are very same who devour tons of meat day after day. And those who say that killing of a particular animal is to be banned have no qualms about killing of other kinds of animals and birds. Then they go to holy places and listen to discourses on how killing is considered a sin and all things alive are dear to God. And they applaud the preacher when he says that God is nothing but life-giver and there is an element of God in everything that is alive. The pro-life activists who can debate for days against abortion are the very same who enjoy eggs, chicken, mutton and beef in the nearby restaurant. Those who say alcohol is not good for health are the very same who need at least a peg everyday in the darkness of night. And those who publicly declare that all religions lead to the same God are same who market their own as the only way. And those who hate idolatry are the ones who have icons for everything and indulge in a whole lot of symbolic activities.
Hypocrisy is there in all realms of life, but it is more in politics and social life. Most of the politicians are arch hypocrites and it becomes their essential trait for survival. In earlier days, though the politicians were hypocrites, their parties had clear objectives and agenda. Those days are gone now. All political parties have an agenda, but they also have a hidden agenda, known only to the top few who hijack the platform. The common men at the bottom of the political ladder are more often mute sheep led by jacketed shepherds who are working for unseen masters. Hypocrisy of political parties is very evident for keen observers who are genuinely non-aligned. As an example, the anti-secular policies of all the secular parties in India are something infamous. In a true secular democracy, the state should discourage all attempts to discriminate citizens on the basis of religion. But we always find the reverse true in most of the policy decisions and activities of the parties in power and opposition. Be it reservation for government jobs or admissions to professional courses or disbursement of financial doles, the underlying criterion are always based on religion rather than merit.
In a world full of hypocrisy, it is nothing but hypocritical to expect for victory of truth and the truthful. Those who are still interested in experimenting with truth must device ingenious methods to deceive the hypocrites and make them unknowingly work towards the desired goals which are good for the society. Deceiving those who deceive others is the only way to take humanity forward in the kali yuga. Our good leaders must also develop their hypocrisy to achieve this. When everyone is lying in a country, it is up to the ombudsman to correct it by lying about the impending doom. There is no point in being a sanayasi or saint who is silently watching the degeneration of the world. Unlike a silent Bheeshma in Mahabharata, at least a few of our leaders must shout and act to overcome the growing trait of hypocrisy.