The internet has become a bit of an outrage machine. Because everything is preserved forever, it’s simple to check people’s current words and actions against past sentiments. And this creates a bit of a problem.
- It makes it difficult for people to grow and change
- It leaves little room for humanity
I’m only going to address the second point in this post. Hypocrisy is obnoxious. Nobody likes it. I think everyone can agree that it’s frustrating when a prominent politician advocates for and then passes a policy, only to be found blatantly disobedient to their own law. This kind of leadership says “rules are for thee, not for me” and regardless of your political beliefs, everyone hates it.
But there’s a distinct difference between flagrant hypocrisy and human imperfection. I know that I have been (and will continue to be) an advocate for honesty and transparency in all aspects of life. I’ve posted that all over the internet. I’ve associated it with my name. I’ve given presentations and speeches about it. I sincerely believe it and try to live it.
I mess up. And there have been times where I’ve been less than honest and transparent. And the day will probably come where I’ll make that mistake very publicly, or perhaps worse, on the internet. Then it will be plain to everyone what a hypocrite I am!
Today, I want to make a case for all the well-meaning people who teach good principles, but who are still just…people. Falling short of your own professed ideals doesn’t make you a hypocrite. It makes you human. The hypocrisy comes in how you treat your own and other people’s failures.
If you hide your mistakes while punishing other people’s mistakes, you’re a hypocrite. If you rail against those who have made the same mistakes you have, you’re a hypocrite. And if you perpetuate outrage against someone simply because they’ve fallen short of who they’re trying to become, then YOU are the hypocrite. Because unless you’ve attained absolute moral perfection (and I know you haven’t) then you owe everyone the same grace you need.
We deserve the right to be human. Which means we need to be able to make mistakes. And we need to be able to get better. So calm the outrage, and let people be imperfect.