Friday, November 09, 2007

Hypocrisy: on being a hypocrite

The word "Hypocrisy" comes from the Greek word which means "play acting". In Greek theatre the actors would place masks over their face, and show forth a different behaviour than what was reality. In our society, hypocrisy is the manner of survival. We learn quickly that we must not reveal the truth. As an example of this, I can still remember the kind of very uncomfortable social situations that I had to face as a mother of an autistic child. One day my son, who was about 11 years old at the time, approached a teacher's aide in school asking her if she was expecting a baby. The very overweight woman was shocked at his statement, and said "No!". My son, totally unaware of the normal social signals that tell us what is acceptable to talk about, looked at her with concern and said "Well if you aren't pregnant, then you really need to go on a diet. You are far too fat for your own good." Oh my gosh! Yes, he spoke the truth, but there was an upheavel in the school that day. I was called into the office, and there we had to help my son realize that there are certain things that we do not tell people.

What does this have to do with karate, and self defense? Karate is centered on "hypocrisy" also. When one is injured, or in pain during a self defense moment, we are taught to hide the damage, and not let our opponent know because that will not only encourage them to continue fighting, but will actually make the situation worse for us. We have to continue in spite of how tired we are, and even convince ourselves that we can go farther than we think we can. We have to show confidence, and keep trying in spite of how badly we think we are doing.

Is "hypocrisy" needed in the interrelations happening amoung the various members of an organization? I believe so. I believe that being totally honest in a group of people will not make for smooth running of the organization. You just can't open up and say things like "So and So is a lousy person".. no matter how true that is. Your statements affect not only the person directly, but also that person's students, family, friends, etc. It affects all of the other people connected to the group as they start taking sides. It brings disharmony, and builds walls. It is best to remain silent, and calm, and to watch reality reveal itself. If that person is as bad a person as you think that they are, reality, time, and patience will make everything apparent.

However, I have come full circle on the issue of speaking out for the truth. I believe that there are moments when one has to choose to go against the pressures around you, and within you to remain silent. There are times when your personal values are being attacked by the actions, and words of the people around you. In these moments, you have to make a decision of how much you can withstand before you place your feet securely down, and make a stand for what you believe in.

I have come to that place in my Martial Arts path. I have decided that I will not tolerate any disparaging, or negative remarks about any aspect of my Sensei being said in my presence. I know that I have not tolerated such statements about my family, my husband, nor myself.. then why would I accept any negatively directed statements about someone as important to me as my Sensei? It will not matter how high the rank is of the person talking to me. When it comes to standing up for my values, the Dan rank of the other person has no importance. If that person has issues with my Sensei's behaviour, teaching, or experience, they will need to speak to someone else, or bring their concerns to Sensei's attention personally.

It is a very possible that such a stand can cause unpopularity as many people dislike having someone stand up and say "This is intolerable, and wrong." Prophets have the common fate of being killed, ridiculed, and ostracized. Oh well.. I accept that fate as part of being willing to live as close to the truth as I can in my life.

1 comment:

Silverstar said...

I agree completely. If someone respects their instructor, then they shouldn't tolerate disparaging remarks being made about their Sifu/Sensei. Their important to you, so its not right for someone to tear them down in front of you.:)