Hypocrisy is not absolutely linked to a lack of truth. There could even be times when the existence of hypocrisy is actually indicative of truth. However, the two can be, and often are, linked.
The important thing to consider when confronted with hypocrisy is our reaction, what it inspires us to do. Certainly, there are times when a hypocrite inspires us merely to do nothing more than pull back and remember one of the most important lessons we can learn: you can’t argue with idiots. But there are also times when the presence of hypocrisy reflects upon something that is important to us or affects us in some way. And in those times one should not be complacent. As has been pointed out here, seeing hypocrisy and automatically assuming that its presence immediately and fully negates the position of the hypocrite is foolish and small-minded. However, it is my contention that doing the opposite – seeing hypocrisy, knowing that doesn’t necessarily negate truth, so automatically assuming the hypocrite’s position is still true – is equally as foolish and small-minded, indeed, maybe more so as such an attitude can lead more directly to complacency.
The appropriate response to hypocrisy is to question and investigate. The existence of hypocrisy within a certain doctrine can be indicative of that doctrine’s truth. So, if truth is important to you, you must go all the way. When you see hypocrisy you must not merely recognize it and either accept or dismiss it, you must discover its source, what drives it, how it arises, its specificity, what the prevalence of such hypocrisy is, etc. There are indeed doctrines to which hypocrisy inherent, and such a doctrine is unlikely to be true. There are other doctrines that have the possibility of being motivated but forces other than truth – cults and financial schemes come to mind. Hypocrisy can expose these motivations. The continued prevalence of hypocrisy is also to be considered. It is not uncommon for a particular doctrine to actually inspire hypocrisy among its adherents. So when it comes up, one must dig deeper and discover whether such a thing is true.
This concept is particularly important when hypocrisy is discovered within one’s own doctrine(s). We are all too complacent with our own beliefs, be they religious, political, environmental or otherwise. If you’re an environmentalist you should be the first person to seek answers the question of Al Gore’s carbon offset business. If you’re an evangelical Christian, you should be first to confront issues such as Ted Haggard’s fall from grace. If you’re a liberal political adherent, you should be the first to deal with recent issues of tax evasion. If you’re a conservative and republican political adherent, an enormous amount of the Bush presidency needs an explanation, hopefully from you. If you’re a Catholic, the discombobulated support of life from the Vatican is ready for you to address. Indeed, the hypocrisy that should be most thoroughly investigated is the hypocrisy in your own midst. If it’s not, you might be a hypocrite.