In my last post I talked of people who say one thing and do another. How easy, indeed, it can be to tell people what they should do when we ourselves are not doing it! Every day in political speeches, on radio and on television, in sermons, homilies, debates, discussions, reflections etc, there are people who tell others what they should do or how they should behave; but ask them if they themselves do those things and most likely you will find that they do not. If you press on, they will tell you ‘do what I tell you and not what I do.’ This is sad, isn’t it.
If the world is going the way it is going, it is because of this type of behavior. Many people in a position to direct the rest tell them what to do but turn around themselves and do the opposite. Often, we hear some very good political rhetoric, which is nothing but air. Those who make such elegant speeches do the exact opposite of what they preach. This is what is called preaching virtue and practicing vice; asking people to be upright but being crooked. An apt word for this type of behavior is hypocrisy; acting to the gallery.
We cannot condemn cheating and ask people not to cheat, when we ourselves cheat. If we speak out against embezzlement and advice people to stay clear of it, we should not on our part embezzle. There are people who condemn tribalism with a passion, yet they are the most tribal persons you can think of. It’s a contradiction.
As the saying goes, ‘Example is the best teacher.’ The things we do speak louder than what we say. We say ‘action speaks louder than words.’ Oliver Goldsmith put it very well. He said ‘You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.’ And an anonymous writer put it even better. He said ‘people may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do.’ This is true. If we want an excellent world for all of us, we must do what we say and say what we do.