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Puzzle Time

Christmas 2017 issue

There is a sin which seems not to be in any legal structure and is not visited by punishment, save that of public opprobrium. The perpetrators invariably are able (to their satisfaction) justify their conduct. This is the demeaning sin of hypocrisy. The actions involved may take a variety of forms - including advocating a course of conduct in public, whilst pursuing the opposite in private, or attributing bad behaviour on the part of another whilst pursuing the same in oneself.

A few examples in the public domain are apposite here:

 A Minister, whilst in office denounces the House of Lords and does everything he can to get the institution abolished. Upon retirement he avidly accepts a peerage.

A politician campaigns forcefully for state schools for all, and the total abolition of private education. When her own child is of age the politician sends her to one of the most exclusive private schools in the land.

The chairman of a committee devoted to root out and expose financial misdoings is found to have embezzled large sums himself.

An African student leads a protest against the British adventurer Cecil Rhodes, attributing to him all that is wrong with colonialism. The student agitates for a statue of the great man which is at a university, to be removed and broken up. It has been reported recently that the student has taken a Rhodes Scholarship.

 The Bible mentions hypocritical behaviour, as with the phrase:
Look not to the mote in thy brothers’ eye, and yet ignore the beam in thine own eye. Getting through this archaic language this imputes a minor transgression in another and yet failing to take heed of a massive failing in oneself. Again, hypocritical conduct occurs when a person takes the moral high ground in public, and pursues tawdry behaviours in private. A show is made of piety which is absent in his private life.

Society can only function properly when people say what they mean and mean what they say. All should obey the moral imperative. Let no one ever genuinely accuse you by saying “Thou Hypocrite”.

Rod Dawson


Cover page No 16 in the fifth series by Rod Dawson.