I heard a profound statement this morning. It goes like this: "The gap between belief and behavior is the space where hypocrisy resides." I can't get it out of my mind. It is so true and so applicable to many facets of our lives. I just had to take a minute to explore it in a bit of detail and the many applications to my life, my colleagues lives, and my students' lives.
First, it calls us to do some serious self-exploration. What do you believe? What do I believe? Of course, I could be referring to spiritual beliefs. But, let's go past that for now. How do believe you should treat others? How do you believe you should react to adversity? How do you believe your should spend your free time? Your money? Your talents? How do you believe that teachers should approach their students? How do you believe students should approach their studies? What are your beliefs on morality, right vs. wrong, forgiveness, love, service, politics, and certainly your spiritual beliefs?
Second, it calls us to examine our behavior. Do my actions line up with my beliefs? Are my actions consistent with the the statements that I want to be making? Self examination is tough. Mirrors don't lie. Photographs don't lie. Audio recordings don't lie. It is tough to see myself as I really am, to hear myself as I really am.
Finally, we must consider the concept of hypocrisy. I can't imagine that anyone wants to be labeled as a hypocrite. And yet, I'll bet all of us can find some gap between our beliefs and our behavior. I know that I can. The truth hurts. I can't think of anything that I would less like to be called than "hypocrite."
To me, this concept is a strong call to consciousness. It forces us to think about this gap between belief and behavior and to do some serious reflecting on where we are in this continuum. And, it is hard to be conscious. So often, we walk through our lives, caught up in our business. We forget to actually think about our actions, the way we are treating others, the way we forgive, love, and interact. So often, I remind my musicians to be "conscious" in rehearsal and not just go through the motions. Here, I challenge them (you, myself) to be conscious in life and not just go through the motions. For my students, you are away from home and on your own for the first time. How does the ratio of your beliefs to behavior stack up after a month or two of school? Trust me, it will be a lifelong struggle. I have been considering it as it applies to my marriage, parenting, teaching, friendships, relationships with those that I encounter on the street, and many other facets of my life.
It was also suggested that the longer we permit the gap to exist between our beliefs and our behavior, one of them has to give out. And many times (most times), it is the belief that fades away, not the behavior. The fact is, that it takes real courage to change our behavior. It is hard. It takes effort. It takes consciousness. I also think that it requires accountability. And believe me, I am as bad at that as anyone. I want to be accountable to myself and rarely permit others to fill that role in my life. Definitely something for me to work on.
I am sure that I will ponder this concept more in the coming days and weeks. I may write more at a later date. But for now, I know that I will be working to narrow the gap between my beliefs and my behavior. I want to strive for honesty and integrity. The last thing I want is for hypocrisy to be part of the definition of me. I encourage you to do the same. Let's walk this path together and narrow the gap between our beliefs and our behavior. I know that I will be the better for it.