The Old Grumpies: How hypocritical is the 21st century world?

Do doctors still have to take the Hypocritical Oath?
Do doctors still have to take the Hypocritical Oath?

At our recent meeting the topic was to be “discussing the prevalence of hypocrisy in the world today”, and members had been asked to prepare examples.

As usual, some members obliged (they were the swots at school) and others gave the standard unconvincing excuses (they were the ones often in detention).

The first question followed a familiar pattern when someone asked for the definition of the word hypocrisy and there followed a variety of suggestions that ranged through insincerity, dishonesty, false-virtue, cant, empty-talk, two-faced and the phoney “do as I say not as I do”.

You could see members looking uneasy as though they were wondering which ones of the suggestions applied to them. Some of them certainly applied to their jokes. There was nearly a consensus that hypocrisy was a simulation of virtue.

But before any further discussion took place the chairman announced that a member had received a letter from a relative who had been in the Services for over 30 years and had studied the response of a variety of countries to the recent threats from North Korea and the chairman felt it appropriate that we should hear it and asked the member to read it.

It appears the Italians are putting another reverse gear on their tanks, the French are stepping up their production of white flags, and the Spanish are putting glass bottoms on their boats so they can see the sea-bed quicker. In Russia, Putin is having an arm tied behind his back because he believes he can conquer the world like that, and the Japanese are ordering more leather helmets and goggles and advertising for carefree pilots. The Germans have said they may have to start wearing uniforms and march with their legs raised, while the English are not yet at the level of “getting a bit cross”. This only happened during the Blitz when the tea supplies ran out. The Australians have said that if things got worse they might have to cancel some barbecues at the weekend. For sometime the chairman seemed to wonder why members were laughing, but slowly he realised that it was not the important document he had anticipated.

But before he acted someone asked “Do the doctors still have to take the Hypocritical Oath?” The expected response from the medical section was not forthcoming. But there was a response when someone asked if lawyers were hypocrites when they defended someone who they knew was guilty. The legal section carried out their usual defiant defence with finger-wagging, fist clasping and the use of three words when one would have sufficed. However the expected application for an adjournment or Legal Aid did not materialise and the meeting continued.

Questions came thick and fast. “Are men of the cloth hypocrites if they preach their version of Christianity but doubt parts of the Bible?” “Was John Major a hypocrite for asking for a ‘Back to Basics’ in moral behaviour when he was often enjoying a Currie?” “What about John Prescott the climate change crusader who had to have a chauffeur driven car to take him 200 yards because his wife didn’t like her hair blowing about?” “What about the anti-fracking brigade who object to lorry loads of concrete being delivered to the drilling site but are in favour of lorry loads of concrete being delivered to thousands of moorland areas?” “Have the people who claim damages for being insulted never insulted anybody them selves?” “Need we mention the football managers who have acute vision spotting the malpractices of the opposition but temporary blindness concerning their own?”

When someone asked if all politicians were hypocrites there seemed to be general agreement until someone said that he didn’t believe that Jeremy Corbyn was. There was a thoughtful silence and then a realisation that whatever you thought of his Marxist views he remains true to his beliefs and was not a political hypocrite.

But the various views expressed throughout the meeting seemed to be that we are all hypocritical but some more so than others, and especially the others. But we are supposed to be The Old Grumpies and we spent most of the meeting laughing. How hypocritical is that?