Mar 10, 2007

Hypocrisy

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently admitted he was having an affair while also leading the effort to impeach President Clinton for lying under oath about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Newt was quick to point out the difference between President Clinton's and his situation: Newt was committing infidelity, not perjury.

Regardless of how one feels about this situation, I think that there is something to learn from it. Despite being wonderfully rational, we are still creatures of our emotions. When thinking about human behavior, the power of emotion tends to trump logic.

Infidelity is rarely a wise and rational choice, but it is often driven by one's emotions: sexual desire and/or feelings of love.

And hypocrisy, by definition, is always illogical - applying standards, but not in a consistent manner.

But, hypocrisy makes much more sense when you look at the emotions that drive such behavior: The desire for control and power, often mixed with the desire to avoid punishment. These emotions are directly related to one of the most basic distinctions underlying life: reward and punishment.

When viewed this way, it's no wonder that hypocritical behavior is so common and widespread. Not everyone has been unfaith to a spouse, but who hasn't been a hypocrite recently?

In this light, is it any wonder that Newt took the stance that he did? Did people assume that Newt would forego a chance at power, but seek out punishment instead? I'm not trying to justify Newt's behavior, just frame it in a different light.

And this leads me to a question that a viewer asked me this week: She caught her husband cheating, but she doesn't understand why he won't admit to it. The answer is often very simple. If admitting the truth is tied directly to punishment, there can be a strong emotional desire to create confusion and doubt.

Telling the truth is easy when there is nothing to lose.

3 comments:

karmawendy said...

Avoidance is a major defense mechanism. However, after the affair is admitted then it is futile for the people involved to think they can still stick their heads in the sand and hide- especially in the world of the internet! Karma is a bitch!

Anonymous said...

Karma is a bitch to those who truely deserve it. I little single gal came into our small town, set her sites on my husband and yes, he had an affair with her. I caught them red handed, her in his truck. As soon as she realized I knew about them, she dropped him like a hot potato. She left town and left us with the horrible mess while she went on her merry way scott free. I learned later that she got married 8 months later and you can bet she never told that poor bastard that she had just finished ruining a 17 year marriage. Guess what? She died only 9 years later with cancer. A long slow lingering death and two children left behind. I thought she got exactly what she deserved. She was 37 years old, the same age I was when she was screwing my husband--and she died on March 23, the same day my husband gave me my engagement ring. Coincidence? I don't think so. Every year on the day of her death, I celebrate. I have never done one single thing to hurt another human being in my life,and for those who do without remorse or regret, I think Karma will always get them in the end.

cheatbuster said...

Deny, Deny, Deny!
But....I'm a believer in the credo that what goes around; comes around....