By Willie Muhammad @BroWM46
One way we can guard against falling into the evil of hypocrisy is by developing ourselves to properly handle disappointment. If we study persons throughout history who turned against principles and beliefs they once held, we will find that at some point in their lives they experienced disappointment. The pain of this disappointment impacted them so greatly that they morphed into something completely different than what they once represented. Look at the historical figure Benedict Arnold. His name is often brought up when the subject of treason is mentioned. If we would take the time to study his life we would learn valuable lessons.
Mr. Arnold was one of the ardent patriots in the early stages of the Revolutionary War, which would give birth to America. He was admired by revolutionary leaders, twice wounded in courageous fighting. His accomplishments could have easily been chiseled onto every Revolutionary War memorial. He used his own money and time to train patriot forces. He helped launch successful military offensives on Fort Ticonderoga and during the Battle of Saratoga. He suffered wounds to the same leg in two separate battles, which he almost lost. He walked with a permanent limp thereafter. Arnold never truly felt that his nation showed the proper gratitude for his support. Petty jealousies kept his name off lists of promotions. Envious military officers generated rumors that stained his reputation. While Arnold lay immobilized in an Albany hospital recovering from the leg wound he suffered in a very important victory, his commander, Major Gen. Horatio Gates, claimed credit for the British surrender. This greatly angered Arnold. Sometime later Arnold felt that he was unfairly convicted and reprimanded for two misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty. He grew more and more infuriated by what he saw as politically motivated accusations that he had misused his military powers. Each occurrence added to his feeling of disappointment.
Reassessing his sacrifices and rewards, Arnold the once admired patriot grew bitter. He was financially strapped, his wife had died during his absence and his personal honor had been attacked. In a letter to George Washington he stated, “Having made every sacrifice of fortune and blood, and become a cripple in the service of my country, I little expected to meet the ungrateful returns I have received from my countrymen.” As history states, Benedict Arnold turned on the country he once loved and gave his life for. Why? Because of DISSAPPOINTMENT!
We see the same in churches, mosques, organizations, businesses, workplaces and in families. How many times have we expected a praise, acknowledgement of our efforts and did not receive it? How did we handle it? What thoughts developed in our mind as a result? Did our participation in the choir, the task, the mission or any other initiative increase or decrease? Our answer to those questions will let us know the degree unto which we were impacted by disappointment.
Improperly handled disappointment breeds and fosters hypocrisy. Disappointment causes us to no longer be true to what we once said we stood for and would give our lives for. The Honorable Louis Farrakhan once said how we handle disappointment is an indicator of our mental health. Belief in God does not shield us from the pain of disappointment. If our faith is weak that pain will consume us to such a degree that we would only be shells of our once faith filled selves. Have our own disappointments produced shades of hypocrisy in us?