Hypocrisy, Oxymorons, and the Wiki-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (That I Proceed to Name within the First Sentence)

I have previously promised myself not to overreact nor pay too much attention to that humongous barrel of tripe that is Conservapedia. And yet I still read it quite regularly- or, more specifically, I read their "In the News" column, which is basically an incessant hail of snide comments linking to pseudo-journalistic outside sources or, very rarely, actual news sources. The commentary that the "news" is stated through, however, simply oozes stupidity - stupidity that frequently ranks statements among the most appallingly idiotic that I have ever seen in my life - but enough about that site.

There are already a number of quality sites and courageous persons of the internet who spend much more of their time than I do to challenge and make known the abomination that is Conservapedia. See here and here, for example, as well as here, to see the regular challenges the site's "News" column faces from people such as myself (under username Rockthecasbah).

(Image: Yeah right.)

Now I bring up this monster of a sub-pseudo-encyclopdic site only because of a recent item on the news column linking to an article entitled "Why Dogs, Not Liberals, Are Man's Best Friend." Its opening sentence is "Some people are convinced that a compassionate conservative is an oxymoron." I immediately added that to my list of oxymorons I have been accumulating for a few weeks. The other phrases on the list are as follows:
  • military intelligence
  • enlightened self-interest
  • Don Young's appeal
  • good money
All of them I picked up in various ways over the last few weeks when people said them not intending them as oxymorons, but of course they are. Anyways, in the grand tradition of my old posts, I have proceeded to address the subjects of the title in reverse order, so now I get down to hypocrisy.

(Image: ironic that Atlas has got to be the most altruistic guy ever...)

The thesis of Mr. Prelutsky's article (ironic that such a misguided writer has the same last name as a beloved children's poet) seems to be "My only problem with liberals is that they're hypocrites and they can't help lying." This was very interesting to me and, I think, worth responding to. It's a very simple statement indeed, and I'm glad these are the only problems Mr. Prelutsky has with liberals, because they are clearly not problems. Firstly, I will clarify that addressing both the hypocrisy and lying follows the same line of thought in my mind, but I will here specifically address hypocrisy. Now, a major point:

We are all hypocrites.

At least, that's what I would have said some time ago, but now that I think about it, that may not be true. I am certainly a hypocrite and I think the vast majority of people are too, in one way or another. Hypocrisy is, in the common sense, not practicing what you preach. And yes, I do preach; I preach for change and saving the world and helping the poor and countless other "liberal" things, all while sitting comfortably in my big rich house and doing little to help the world - yet. (I plan to change that.) But all the same I am a hypocrite, and I'm sure you are too.

Despite this, it may indeed be possible to not be a hypocrite. This doesn't mean changing what you practice, I think, because human action is always faillible and always inperfect in following what we say one is to do - that's why pretty much everyone is a hypocrite. But maybe, just maybe, a person might be able to escape our inherent hypocrisy by changing what they preach. This, of course, is how conservatives may generally seem less hypocritical than liberals. Basically, they hold themselves to lower standards.

Drug-using pastors, gay priests and pageboy-assaulting politicians aside, conservatives generally seem stick to their ideals. It isn't very hard to stick to your message when it's to act in your own self-interest and do things how they've always been done. It's incredibly difficult to really practice what you preach when you preach for goodness, progress, and reaching beyond the baseness of the world as it is today. Conservatives simply wallow in the baseness of it and call it being honest. They see themselves as realists up against the dangerous dreaming propagated by liberals. Well I ask- what is living without dreaming? If humanity does not preach for a better tomorrow while constantly trying (and often failing) to reach it, what are we? Are we not just other animals caught in the cycle of history?

I mean, I don't even mean to get all secular here. Although I still find the question of God unnecessary, I have recently experienced a personal surge in religiosity and have come to completely embrace the fact that many of my ideals and perhaps my entire moral base are founded upon Christianity. I am not so familiar with other followings, but a key tenet, perhaps the very central goal of Methodism, as founded by John Wesley, is to seek perfection in one's relationship with God. You obviously can't get there, but you should sure as hell try. Wouldn't that be the same goal for other Christians as well- striving for perfect godliness? The same applies to striving for a perfect world, does it not?

(Image: John Wesley, my middle-namesake, due to my being born on Aldersgate Day)

Now here's what Jesus has to say:

Matthew 7:1-5 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (NIV)

Indeed, we all need to be more aware of the planks in our eyes. As I've said, we all have those planks, and I think it is a lifelong committment to try to remove more and more of it. The presence of that plank, however, is no reason not to hope your brother will fish out the speck. That plank is no reason not to dream. That plank is no reason not to be liberal.