Sunday, February 28, 2010

Genuine Article or Hypocrite?

It's been a busy two weeks. Most of the writing I've done has been the required kind: Educational Histories of Students, Progress Report Summaries, and Individual Education Plans. But on a more interesting note... I came across a quote I liked:

“It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinions;
it is easy in solitude to live after your own;
but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd
keeps with perfect sweetness
the independence of solitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pondering the quote for a week or two, I've been challenged to carry more personal serenity and general calmness into my daily busy-ness. (And it has helped.)

I agree with Emerson that part of personal greatness is personal consistency. I admire that trait in others. I think it's a trait worth cultivating in myself as well.

My dad used to say, "Do as I say, not as I do."

This was uttered enough times to make an impact. It was often the final salvo in a match of wits, which he won.

It was not until years later I arrived at a proper rebuttal, "But Dad, that's hypocritical!"

(In my 60's/70's mentality, "Keeping it real" mattered.)

Social conventions and interpersonal skills do require us to use filters and act appropriately, but that still leaves plenty of room for being genuine.

Being fake, two-faced, or phony is not a good thing. (Nor is being rude, hurtful, or overly blunt.) Somewhere between the extremes lies a balance point of civility, reality, and honesty.

There are always pressures to conform in a crowd. Having an opinion is not always welcome, even if the opinion is just different, not contrary. Cultivating a sense of self strong enough to maintain individuality against the tide of conformity is difficult, but commendable.

The personal pendulum may swing occasionally into hypocrisy, but hopefully a little internal alarm goes off.

Recently I began watching "The Big Bang" TV series. At one point, Leonard clearly succumbs to blatant contradiction between personal opinion and voiced opinion. His friends are appalled. Sensing their disapproval, he turns to them and says, "What? You've never seen a hypocrite before?"

We all have. What I try to avoid is seeing one in the mirror.