OF PHARISEES, HYPOCRISY, AND FIJI’S INQUISITORS

Editorial

Fiji Daily Post

SUVA, Fiji (July 31) – According to the Christian Bible we are all in the same sinking boat – ‘there is none righteous; we are told, ‘all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious ideal’. That’s why Jesus makes it imperative that we strive for the perfection of our heavenly Father.

And that is what makes hypocrisy so intolerable. Hypocrisy is pretending to be something other than what you are. It is covering up one’s true condition while attacking those who are just like what you are inside. Hypocrisy is disguising one’s real position by asserting it is something else. Hypocrisy is lying to oneself and others while refusing to concede one is a liar. Hypocrisy takes issue with others on matters that are really unresolved in oneself. It is the pretence of virtue in the face of practiced vileness.

That is why Jesus reserved his worst judgments on humanity for hypocrites. In his time, he especially identified the ruling elite of Pharisees as hypocrites – men who sat in judgment of others while failing to judgment themselves by the same standards. In one of the gospel accounts, Jesus is recorded as hurling seven judgments against these hypocrites. He sympathized with the people of his day who had no option but to ‘obey them and do everything’ they were told, but Jesus correspondingly warned people ‘not to do what they (i.e. the Pharisees) do for they do not practice what they preach’.

While religious hypocrisy is an appalling condition – often resulting in a loss of faith and belief for those adversely affected - political hypocrisy is just as bad and its effect just as devastating. In political contexts the result is not so much a loss of faith in God or church or mosque or temple, but a loss of faith in the virtue and viability of the democratic process.

In politics, hypocrisy can go all the way to the top of the pile. Richard Nixon was an American president at the end of the 1960s who in the early ’70s ingloriously failed the public hypocrisy test. While depicting himself as a champion of civic virtues, Nixon’s personal insecurities and hypocrisy lay hidden from public view for decades. They surfaced in the famous Watergate scandal. While trying to hide presidential responsibility beneath his failing party leaders and other government officials, Nixon was eventually found out and forced to resign his presidency prior to impeachment. Record levels of public support for him some years earlier were turned to public humiliation and shame.

In Fiji right now, we are watching and weighing the virtue of those who are at the root of our clean-up campaign. This campaign is not about the physical environment, but the moral environment, the ethical field of political play and how it impacts on our spheres of governance. It is a good thing to have a clean up, we have long argued. But it is imperative that those behind it be ‘as perfect as (our) heavenly Father is perfect’. The legitimacy of their exercise depends upon it.

If those who are conducting the moral search and destroy mission in our public institutions are found themselves to be infected with the very corruption they are accusing others of, there will be a whirlwind to reap in terms of public disgust and reaction. We urge the Interim Government and Prime Minister to therefore ensure that those within their ranks and supporting the work of cleaning up Fiji are not only imbued with a solemn appreciation of the negative impact of political hypocrisy, but are at the forefront of public confession and themselves are willing to come clean in order to maintain public faith and confidence in the integrity of the work of their upright colleagues.

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