Trying to Please

Trying to please. We all do that. There are times when we don’t care anymore and show the middle finger to the world, but more than often, we try to please.

Who better to set the example than the very leaders of our countries? Especially during election month, that’s the politician’s peak. “Free education”, they said. “Build a wall”, they said. What they didn’t say is who was to be the lucky sponsors of all that.

Nah, probably not you.

Business people too sprout dazzling words: “Every girl is beautiful, and we want them to know that.” Obviously by selling makeup, that’s the way to go! I think their parents forgot to tell them lying is supposed to be a no-no.

Keywords: supposed to. Because who hasn’t lied in their life? In my personal experience, lying has got me out of quite a few awkward situations. But when you lie in an attempt to please… What do we call that? Hypocrisy. It surrounds us, constantly, in clever disguises. If I remember well, currently, it’s borrowing the names of rights and equality. Molière sums it perfectly in Tartuffe: “Hypocrisy is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtue”.

For instance, the value of liberty of expression, defended and preached globally every single day, notably in North America. Yet more often than not, as soon as someone against what those messengers defend just opens one’s mouth, they rush to label that opinion as immoral or wrong. I am neither a Clinton nor a Trump supporter, but I do pity the latter at times. “Homophobe!” “Misogynist!” “Racist!” We heard those in mass when the audacious ones came forward before and after the presidential elections. Heck, what do we really know? Who do we think we are to label individuals with such words? Words generalizing a group that is actually far from homogeneous too! Imagine their argument was that they thought Trump’s economic politics were better – better is not the same as great, may I underline. Imagine their argument for “overlooking” the sexual allegations was that they had no reason to consider them differently than Bill Clinton’s. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m referring to those who truly speak, not those who incite hatred and violence, as free speech is done in a context of respect.

Nobody has any obligation to agree with anybody after they listen to both sides of the story, because to hold an opinion is not a sin; to force it upon another for whatever reason, however, is less excusable, even more so when one brags about the importance of free speech.

Politicians also love free speech, but they love it even more when you agree with them too. I guess this explains why they seem to ignore the all but negligible voices of citizens who stand against their causes. Of course always noble are those causes, and money, power or reputation, certainly not involved. Say, the refugee conflict. I appreciate and support their enthusiasm in sheltering those families caught in war. Altruism, generosity and kindness are, after all, half of our nature and perhaps even the hope of humanity. Yet how can I believe them when their action contradicts essential rules I have been taught.

In CPR classes what do they tell us? Make sure you are safe before you help someone else. If you’ve ever taken a flight, in case of low pressure, the procedure should be to put your mask first before you help someone else. Even my mom told me when I plead for a dog: “how can you take care of another if you can’t yet provide for yourself”?

Those heads of entire countries are shouldering the responsibilities of more lives than they can manage. On TV you see leaders striving passionately to be Samaritans on the international stage, but so scarce are those news when it comes to resources for the starving, the homeless, the abused, the poor – the forgotten citizens in their own home country! Why, are those problems not popular, not dramatic enough?

Ah, the media. It feels like only yesterday that Afghanistan was covering the front page. Today, there might be barely a few words on page 22. The whole Iraqi-Arab-Palestine problem has been going on and off for years, with a whole ethnicity still left with nowhere to call home. Only now has helping them become a priority?

Hypocrisy is an endless subject to write on, probably because it composes the other half of humanity. Not just the protesters, not just the politicians, there’s also you and me and everybody. We’ve all got our little hypocrite inside and at some point in our short lives, have done something we do not mean, whether for our own convenience or for we are trying to please.

Image Source: Flickr

Lyliane Hale

Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol. 47 Issue 2 on September 27, 2017