October 21, 2005

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Hypocrisy by any other name...

Well, boys and girls, it’s “Go figure!” time again. The little ironies of everyday life are growing in direct proportion to the number of years we’ve been around to observe them.

For example, we live in a time when tolerance is said to be the most important American virtue. So, we turn around and prove it by polarizing everything from politics to religion. Tolerance apparently means proclaiming officially that we want something to exist, but constantly undermining it anyway.

We claim to cherish a two-party political system, but each side not only criticizes the other, but also demonizes it. The beliefs, actions and even the moral character of a candidate or officeholder is often described by the opposing party as immoral or driven by evil motives. Distrust and acrimony rule but, not to worry, both sides are equally responsible.

We demand respect for any and every religion or non-religion, if that’s what someone embraces. Yet, we monitor public expressions of personal belief so stringently that we offend believers of all stripes. In public venues, Muslims are implied to be terrorists, evangelicals are described as fanatical bombers of abortion clinics and Catholics as mindless victims of pedophilic clergy.

We denounce stress, which occurs among all ages in our society. Then we schedule activities or work for every waking moment and even some moments when we should be sleeping. To be sure, we cope with the bad results by taking sleeping pills or tranquilizers; unless we become addicted, but that’s a different can of worms.

We insist on sending kids to pretend-schools almost before they are walking and talking, and commit many hours of their care to paid caregivers. We rarely eat meals together as a family, we’re not available after school when the kids want to talk, and we’re surprised later when they exhibit fears or behaviors we don’t understand.

We’re upset by widespread obesity in our nation. So we eat out more than we eat at home, we shortchange our sleeping time and we drive everywhere when we could walk. In addition, we throw money at fad diets, expensive fitness equipment and gym memberships, which we employ when we’re not glued to our computers, television sets or Game Boys.

We claim to value family, children and all those wholesome things we hear were common in the old days. But we engage in entertainments, work and relationships that are the antithesis of morally worthwhile. “Sex and the City” was long one of the most popular shows on television, schemes for getting rich quick are as prevalent as lotteries and children are set up for abuse by virtual strangers.

We proclaim that women have equal rights, including sexual freedom and financial independence. So, abortion is legal and single-parent homes headed by women impoverished by divorce have become a major population statistic. Meanwhile, men have no say in the abortion of their children nor any particular responsibility to maintain a family they’ve created.

If all this sounds pretty gloomy, it should. We seem to live in especially ironic times, but sometimes it’s heck to be so human.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


Local site Links: