I was thinking about this the other day. I think we all have our own pet hypocrisies. Does this make us all hypocrites?
While reading a great book called The Life You Save Might Be Your Own, about the Catholic writers, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O'Conner, and Walker Percy, I was challenged by Day's resolute pacifism. She almost destroyed her organization, the Catholic Worker, and her own reputation, but continuing in her pacifism even amidst compelling arguements for the "just war" theory preceeding and throughout World War II.
If war is to be justified you would think that with the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbour, and the march of Hitler, would be a very strong case study. And I wondered how I would handle such a situation.
And that got me thinking...
I really do believe in pacifism. Maybe not extreme pacifism, I would defend innocents with as little force as was necessary. I believe it is the way of Christ, and find it hard to justify killing or even injuring our enemies that we are called to love, and pray for. But as much as I believe in this, I must admit I would most likely not follow my beliefs in certain circumstances. Infact, if I am honest, I would probably be provoked to violence even without the threat of physical harm. And though I am sure I would feel incredible guilt afterwards, I do believe I would have trouble curtailing my natural reactions. Now this brings up two questions. The first we will leave for now, but it is this: If this is true do a really believe in pacifism?
But assuming that I do, (which is a big assumption), the second question is: Does this make me a hypocrite?
I am not sure it does. I think it makes me someone who admittedly cannot live up to their own values and ideals. Though I truly hope if it comes to it, I can resist my urges and do the right thing, I think it is quite possible I would not. I also think if it involved my wife or my daughters, I would definately live outside of my ideal.
So what is a hypocrite? I think a hypocrite would be someone who does not admit their own fragile nature, and also demands a lifestyle of others that they themselves cannot live. And that it seems requires a self absorption so complete that you cannot really look at yourself in truth. In my life the longer I dwell in the truth the more I realize what a flawed and imperfect vessel I am. And though I am frequently disappointed and even frustrated with others that I feel are not truly making an effort, I understand that living in righteousness is something that we may forever strive for, yet never completely realize.
Ofcourse this definition of hypocrite lets me off the hook...
which is why I hold it ofcourse :)