Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Weakness Is Not Hypocrisy

"Desires give birth to sin. When sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death." James 1:15
One temptation that I have trouble controlling is sugar. I love chocolate and Coke. When I was a little boy I admit I was addicted to processed sugar. However, as a young adult I believe I have controlled my desires well. I still have refined sugar every now and then but much less than before.

I was having light refreshments after a seminar a few days ago and someone offered me a can of Coke. I refused it, saying I didn't want to have any refined sugar. The person then accused me of being a hypocrite because he saw me drinking Ribena--which has refined sugar in it--weeks earlier.

He said, "How can you say you don't drink sugar when you drank Ribena three weeks ago? You are a hypocrite."

I admit that I have temptations and I don't always succeed in suppressing my desires. However, this does not make me a hypocrite. To be a hypocrite is to pretend you have an opinion that you don't have. My opinion or policy is that I want to try reduce how much refined sugar I have. Just because there is a moment of weakness and I have some sugar it does not mean that I didn't try to not have it.

The same applies with savings.  I try to avoid spending on things that are not necessities but that does not mean I do it all the time. I try to do it.

A good analogy I like to use is to compare myself to an athelete who tries to run one kilometer as fast as possible. Quick and dirty Googling reveals that the world record for running one kilometer is 2 minutes and 23 seconds. An athelete may train hard and try to beat that record. Just because a particular athelete tries to beat the world record and insteads runs a kilometer in 3 minutes, does that make him a hypocrite? Instead of disrespecting him for his failure, why not respect him for his effort?

In a similar way, when I try to reduce spending on luxury items or reduce consumption of refined sugars, I am like an athelete trying to achieve a personal goal. Just because I have 5 grams of refined sugar in one particular day instead of the goal of zero grams, it doesn't mean that I shouldn't keep trying to reduce my refined sugar intake.

When my friend at the seminar claimed that I was a hypocrite, he tried to argue that I should drink Coke, that I should give in to my desire to have sugar. Just because you fail in an attempt to reach a goal, does it mean that you should give up and just give in to failure? You could, but then you miss out on the benefits of the goal you are trying to achieve. The athlete could give up on his attempt to run faster, but then he would miss out on the gold medal. I could give up on my goal to reduce my refined sugar intake, but if I do that there is a risk I may become fat and suffer from cardiovascular diseases in the long term like stroke or heart attacks.

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