The holier than thou syndrome: a rant on self-righteousness

There are people who think that simply doing the “right” thing is what makes you “righteous”, and to those people, I would like to ask the following questions:

  1. How different is the man that steals to the man who wants to steal?
  2. How different is the married man that commits adultery to the married man that desires all the woman that cross his path?
  3. How different is the man that kills to the man that is desperately itching for the blood of his enemies?

Our judicial system convicts us based on provable actions and activities, but is it not true that all actions start with an intention? Is it not true that all intentions begin with a desire? Is it not true that all desires begin with a thought? Thus, if we were to instead be judged based solely on our thoughts alone, would we not all be in jail? In deep denial of this, we desperately try to convince ourselves that it is rather our level of restraint and self-discipline that makes us righteous and this is clearly mirrored in the way we teach and bring up our children. Encouraging them to value doing “good” actions over actually expressing “good” intentions and not taking the time to carefully explain the difference. We read them stories of Father Christmas rewarding the “good” children with presents on Christmas day and giving the “bad” children pieces of coal. We tell them that when we die we will all be judged at the pearly gates based solely on what one did during our time on Earth and whether or not we claimed to believe in xyz. The “believers”, will naturally go to heaven and the “heathens”, well, they go to hell and burn for eternity. Pity.

While the intentions of this approach may have had some good intentions initially, what this actually does, is teach purely by the means of scare tactics:

  • Do this OR that will happen.
  • Do that OR this will occur.
  • This is WRONG! but that is RIGHT.

Force-feeding a mental model upon vulnerable, fragile minds, without ever allowing them to form their own opinions on the matter and come to their own logical, rational conclusions – assuming that logic and rational are still within grasp. And now we find ourselves in a world where acts of terrorism, racism, sexism, anti-*ism, and homophobia are a common daily occurrence and we ask ourselves how we got here.

Unfortunately, it is very easy to teach. It is all too easy to tell someone what to do. But while you can teach actions, you can’t teach being. You cannot forcefully teach someone how to think, how to exist or how to be. Yet we have tried so hard to do this and as one would expect we are now reaping the rewards of our labor. We now find ourselves in a world where there are a large number of people that have deep desires to:

  1. Consume alcohol
  2. Take drugs
  3. Have sex before marriage
  4. Kill
  5. Steal
  6. Lie
  7. Cheat
  8. Explore their sexuality

Yet because of their twisted dogmatic ideas of what is “right”, “wrong”, “natural” and “acceptable”, they then think that simply abstaining and resisting the “temptation” gives them the right to be “holier than thou”. Arrogantly looking down on us mere, sinful mortals as they proudly sit on top of their high horses. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they are silently wrestling with inner conflict deep beneath the surface, as they fight their own demons and struggle with their own ill-formed concepts of morality, understanding, and truth. All the while maintaining a stern, solemn face on the surface for all to see.

Please, let us not be hypocritical. Your only merits are that of your restraint and self-discipline. Without that, you are just as pathetic (according to you) as the same people that you choose to judge and condemn.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? – Matthew 7:1-3 



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