(writing with frozen fingers… weather.com says “feels like -20.” curse you, Midwest…)
…At the same time, “sin” is so difficult for the Christian to avoid (as counter-revolutionary activity is today, for us) that this demand leads to feelings of guilt, failure, and ultimately dispair when he realizes that it is impossible for him to be “innocent” and “pure.” In fact, by forbidding “sin,” Christian doctrine makes it all the more tempting and intriguing for the believer; for whether the mind does or not, the human heart recognizes no authority and will always seek out that which is forbidden.
We must not make the same mistakes as the Christians. The demand that radicals be free from hypocrisy, free from any implication in the system, has the same effects as the Christian demand that people be free from sin: it creates frustration and despair in those who would seek change, and at the same time makes hypocrisy all the more tempting. Rather than seek to have clean hands, we should aim to make the inevitable negative effects of our lives worthwhile by offering enough positive activity to more than balance the scales. This approach to the problem can save us from being immobilized by fear of hypocrisy or shame about our “guilt.”
Besides, demands that we avoid hypocrisy deny the complexity of the human soul. The human heart is not simple; every human being has a variety of desires which pull her in different directions. To ask that she only pursue some of those desires and always ignore others is to demand that she remain perpetually unfulfilled… and curious. This is typical of the kind of dogmatic, ideological thinking which has afflicted us for centuries: it insists that the individual must be loyal to one set of rules and only one, rather than doing what is appropriate for her needs in a particular situation.
It might well be true that the whole self can only be expressed in hypocrisy. Certainly a person needs to formulate a general set of guidelines regarding the decisions she will make, but to break from these occasionally prevents stagnation and offers the opportunity to consider whether the guidelines need reevaluation. A person who is not afraid to be hypocritical from time to time is in less danger of selling our permanently one day, because she is able to taste the “forbidden fruit” without feeling forced to make a permanent choice. She is immune to shame and eventual despair that afflict those who strive for perfect “innocence.”
So be proud of yourself as you are: don’t try to get the inconsistencies of your soul to match up in a false and forced manner, or it will only come back to haunt you. Rather than holding inflexibility to a set system, let us dare to reject the idea that we must be faithful to any particular doctrine in our efforts to create a better life for ourselves. Let us not claim to be innocent, let us not claim to be pure or right! But let us proclaim proudly that we are hypocrites, that we will stop at nothing, not even hypocrisy, in our struggle to take control of our lives. In this age when it is impossible to avoid being a part of the system we strive against, only blatant hypocrisy is truly subversive – for it alone speaks the truth about our hearts, and it alone can show just how difficult it is to avoid living the modern life which has been prepared for us. And that alone is good reason to fight. Thanks, Jane Humble.