Alexandre Aschenbach

Hypocrisy and Learning


In our innermost feelings, how many beliefs, how many truths, how many ideas and how many virtues we know we don't have?

This certainty, which afflicts the hearts of honest men, is the lever that drives growth, thinning the brutality and callousness of man to obtain the necessary polish to act in earnest and within the ethics and morals that civilized life proposes.

The same certainty, however, is often masked by our words and actions.

Are we capable of showing ourselves without masks?

For sure there's concern in this direction if we are not seeking to improve ourselves and, if this is your case, just quit reading this.

When we speak or act against our beliefs, truths and intimate ideas, then we are being hypocritical.

Hypocrisy is not a virtue, but it is a gift we all have. Remember: gifts are not good or bad, gifts are just gifts.

Francois duc de la Rochefoucauld said: "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue." What did he mean? Hypocrisy is false itself, turning to the outside world (our inner self) in our Vices Virtues.

So, in Rochefoucauld's opinion, hypocrisy is a pretense, a lie.

By sheer logic, hypocrisy is wrong. It is a gift which we should not use.

The old lady who goes to church and fulfills her obligations and penance, the priest and altar boy helper who is seen as friendly, sincere and but, on the same day goes to the house of friends to gossip and speak ill of others is hypocritical, lie, pretend.

The Jew in the Synagogue who fulfills his obligations and gives advice to the younger and, when on the outside, "forgets" what he said and practices the "do as I say, not as I do" is being hypocritical, a liar, he is pretending.

The parent who teaches his children not to steal, and at his workplace takes small "gifts" in his pocket is being hypocritical, a liar, he is pretending.

The Mason who, inside the Lodge, builds wonderful texts about brotherhood, tolerance and honesty and at the exit, speakes evil of his brothers, plot against others, and betrays his own family is being hypocritical, a liar, he is pretending.

The leader who guides the work of their subordinates, demanding of them effective and immediate response but, when he himself needs to take actions neglects them is being hypocritical, a liar, he is pretending.

The doctor who advises the patient not to smoke and, after consultation, lights his cigaretteis being hypocritical, a liar, he is pretending.


It is terrible to deal with this reality because we surely know or even, from time to time, live with similar situations.

It is necessary to deal with this reality because there is no escaping from the world or from ourselves.

It is important to understand this reality. And everyone will understand it his or hers own way. But I would like to offer a milder, less aggressive but maybe more critical approach.

In my understanding there are two classes of hypocrites: the first is the one who takes advantage of his hypocrisy in order to obtain worldly benefits or status; the second is the one who is still stuck to his vices, ideas, beliefs, truths and misleading information but is striving to improve himself, to "polish" himself.

To the first, contempt.

To the second, tolerance.

Tolerance because the noble quest for self improvement is part of learning. The one who sincerely wants to improve himself deserves tolerance and respect.

So, Hypocrisy and Learning can go hand in hand, complementing each other because the first tends to decrease and the second is the result of a heart that recognizes itself and, as noted earlier, this sure is the lever that drives the internal growth.

If, recognizing the effort to learn despite the hypocrisy, would we not be hypocritical if we did not tolerate and try, within our means, to help those who act in this way?

Seeing someone acting in a deplorable way, but recognizing his attempt to improve himself, by ignoring, humiliating and neglecting this person, wouldn’t we be acting in an even more deplorable way?

Before you judge, before believing that someone is being hypocritical, we must separate the hypocrisy and self preservation. We cannot expose our weaknesses without achieving a fatal result. The fact that we are constantly being judged does not allow us to show our true selves and to preserve our integrity we need to hide some weaknesses. This is much different than to disclose virtues that we do not really possess.

The masks we wear, when they do not change what we are, just lurking, is "preservation", "protection". But when we wear masks that disseminate lies, then, yes, we are being hypocrites.

Invariably people who use hypocrisy as a way of life end up loosing their masks on the way, and usually losing their jobs, sometimes losing their friends and occasionally even their families.

Criticism should always be headed by the analysis of ourselves and must always be finished with a message of encouragement and improvement. Therefore, we improve ourselves and encourage behaviour changes. If not, better to keep quiet.

Let's look inside ourselves and try our vices, our beliefs, truths and ideas that are still ingrained within us. We will surely find many problems ... and we can see ourselves repeatedly acclaiming virtues that we do not possess in order to obtain success which does not belong to us.

Better work to extinguish our vices, and along the way, being worthy of the virtues we possess, and when that happens, we will realize that we need not disclose such virtues because they are inherent to our being.