One of the most common observations that people share about me is that they know where they stand with me. I’m the one that usually speaks everyone else’s mind for them when they lack the courage to be bold. I don’t do this deliberately, I do it out of frustration. That frustration stems from the realisation that whining in private never changes what irks us in public.
Initially my inclination to speak out is based on a belief that those that are silent are in fact oppressed in some form or another. It’s a belief that drives me to be convinced that if given a shoulder to lean on, or a support structure from which to draw strength, people will inherently find more reason to be true to themselves, and in so doing, act with greater conviction in the face of obstacles, or oppression. Such idealism has never served me well.
The reality is closer to people wanting to be liked more than they care about fighting any good fight. Popularity is what drives us more than conviction. Perhaps this is why leaders are despised in the making, but revered in office. We judge harshly those that push for change when such change disrupts our own comfort zones, but feel no qualms about indulging in the benefits of the new realities created by the same people we once despised, often even proudly claiming affiliation with the struggle that brought about the much needed change.
Glory hunters. That’s all we are. To be associated with that which is perceived as popular or meritorious by those we idolise is what drives our conviction. Pride of association. It’s a powerful tool to influence the masses. But it comes at a price. The price we pay for it is the isolation we feel when we realise that we’re simply the pawns of the masses in the run up to the turning of the tide.
The art of insincerity is best displayed in that final phase of a tough project when all the naysayers suddenly rally around being fully supportive as if they were by your side all along, drooling with the anticipation of sharing in the glory of the achievement that everyone thought you insane to pursue in the first place. That’s when the ambivalence sets in because despite the obvious hypocrisy, you need them to appreciate the benefits of the endeavour, because without those very same consumers, the outcome will be redundant no matter how brilliant the solution.
This is true in both work and life. The fact that we still have good reason to differentiate between the two is sad, but that is a topic for another day’s ramblings. So it seems the art of insincerity is a reciprocal one. It’s one of the times when holding fast to higher principles will erode the value of the outcome. Sanity can only be salvaged through the adjustment of our expectations. If we expect sincerity, we’ll be distracted from our purpose. But that demands a reciprocation of insincerity, because if we don’t have an expectation of sincerity, then by default we accept that demanding less than what we would ideally want is in itself insincere relative to our convictions. In so doing, we too will master the art of insincerity that we so vehemently despise in others.
I guess the test of life might lie in being a better hypocrite than the next. I think we call that political correctness, no?