SIGNAL FAILURE

By: Stuart White 18-05-2021

 

SIGNAL FAILURE

Last week I was told by a reliable source that a mutual acquaintance had said something extremely unflattering about me. I was livid!  I might talk the stuff of surrender, acceptance and non-judgment but my hurt feelings can be just as easily triggered as the next person. When people talk behind my back it makes me angry – especially if what they are saying is not true. When it is the truth I am more likely to shrug my shoulders with a “it is what it is” attitude but when it feels like a blatant lie I’m ready to attack.

In this instance I was so triggered because it was someone who I know blows smoke up my backside, regularly waxing on about my professionalism yet was heard saying the complete opposite. Now if there is one thing that angers me more than anything it’s the two faces of the hypocrite. I demanded to know what was said EXACTLY and in what context. I had to be literally restrained forgetting all my yogi training of  ‘let it be, you’re not responsible for the words of others, and breathe’.  A few days on and it appears that this wasn’t exactly what was said, although I think it’s simply embarrassed back-peddling...The Calvin Coolidge quote comes to mind “ If you don’t say anything,  you won’t be called on to repeat it.” 

It took me a long time to learn about having integrity with your word. It’s something that I have tried to preach in business in recent years especially to young professionals trying to forge a career but without the emotional experience or judgment to know what is important on the journey. I refer to Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, one of which is to be impeccable with your word which states "Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love."

The problem with practicing what you preach, or trying to maintain a decent moral standard is, it’s hard work because as human beings we are wired to go for the path of least resistance so hypocrisy will often win. The fact that I preach this stuff means I need to commit to it and when I am called out for it I take it seriously. Do I get it right all the time? Hell no, but with the bar raised it’s what I must endeavor to reach. And just because I admit to my human failings it shouldn’t let me off the hook.

Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another like the politician who preaches against corruption but profits from exactly that or the anti- homosexual pastor who watches gay porn. It angers one more when the person has taken a stand and done the opposite. I was so angry at being called unprofessional mostly because the person makes such a big thing previously of saying that I am. “One of the universally despised sins is hypocrisy, falsely pretending to hold beliefs, feelings, standards qualities, opinions, virtues, motivations, or other characteristics that a person does not actually hold.  Powerful people tend to be the greatest hypocrites, which accounts for why scandal, false preachers, and mealy-mouthed persons are so prevalent in bastions of reigning political parties. “ Kilroy J. Olster
 
The question is, is it okay to say something – presumably the right thing - even if you don’t follow through on it? Like when Meghan Markel preaches about family but is estranged from her own father whom she hasn’t spoken to in years (even though he might be a bit if an ass) or when Greta Thunberg who made the infamous “How dare you” speech at the UN and sailed transatlantic on an alleged “Zero-emission yacht” because she refused to have the carbon footprint of air travel. Later it emerged that a crew of 5 to 7 people had to be flown across the ocean to bring this alleged emission-free yacht back to Europe with the associated 7 times increase in carbon emissions!  The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, please, Greta.

Today its what’s called virtue signaling so you can showcase your progressive credentials – as anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-corruption etc. – rather than actually being moral?  A little background. Signals, in evolutionary theory, are how we communicate, to get what we want from others. It is what animals do in nature and include everything from peacocks’ mating dances to a lizard’s camouflage. Virtue- signaling is when a person loudly condemns other people for what they do. You know the type, those who condemn cruel farming practices or claim virtual veganism but eat regularly at McDonald’s on the QT - preaching virtuosity but practicing the blind eye when it’s inconvenient. It’s a signal, all right, and we read you loud and clear.

This is the worst kind of hypocrisy because what you are doing is sending a false signal. Whenever you read an article morally condemning someone, it’s worth asking if the call-out is the writer’s way of not confronting their own prejudice. Research done by Yale University on this concluded: “If you’re an “honest hypocrite” – if you openly admit you struggle to abide by the principle you’re preaching – people won’t mind your hypocrisy at all. By being so open, you’re no longer guilty of false signaling.”   Come again? That’s crossed signals to me!