Obama and Ban Ki Moon poster at Wimal’s fast unto saline
I was going to say hypocrisy’s not a sin, but perhaps that’s not the right word. Let’s say duplicity. Duplicity is not necessarily a sin. Sometimes ideals need to be out there as a matter of faith before they can be made real. Sometimes you can’t do what you say but it’s important to say it anyways. Though only sometimes. Human ideals have always outstripped our means. The religious faiths we claim to follow, the family values we claim to uphold, no one really follows them. If, however, we limit our words to describing what we do, we don’t create another world (however illusory) that is better. In a strange way, simply saying these things and reinforcing them socially does have a way of making them a reality over time.
The United States was founded on lofty principles of freedom, but they had slaves for hundreds of years and only fully gave rights to minorities in the last century. Those words, however, formed the backbone of not necessarily what they were, but what they were in the process of becoming. Now the US is all over the news for its somewhat domineering and dismissive international relations which are focused mostly on their own self-interest. There are dealings with rather dictatorial types, spying on UN officials and deals to move possibly illegally held prisoners around in exchange for Presidential face time. Not exactly the face the US wants to show the world.
In my main experience, that diplomatic face is generally boring. I’ve been to press conferences at the US Embassy and they say absolutely nothing. In private, however, the same people do have rather firm opinions. This is duplicity, of a sort, but such is diplomacy. Part of it is telling people what they want, part of it is deception, but the greater part is just caution and respect. Soon, however, that will be out in the open here, just as it is in the Arab world. Is that bad for the US? Yeah. Probably unfair? Yeah, but they also tortured a bunch of random Muslims and attacked two countries so, er, sorry.
The broader point I’m getting at is that duplicity does have its place. There are different standards for public and private behavior and that is OK. I say things in private I wouldn’t want out as a quasi-public blogger, and that’s important. Where this point collides with technology, however, is that the public and private are rapidly merging into one space. Celebrities have known that for years, random kids on Facebook have found out, and now American diplomats. In an era when everything is recorded, everything could be on the record. What is going to change, I think, is not this behavior, but I think that our concept of privacy will entirely change.
At some point we’ll have to reconcile with the fact that we talk shit about our friends, we take naked pictures of each other and this is all potentially public. At some point there may be so much of it in public that we no longer care. That is, we’ll never get back to simplicity, but multiplicity may have a similar effect.