FAIN, FEIGN, AND SINCERITY

Here are a couple of outdated words in the English language that I think we should bring back and use more.

Fain: to want, to desire, to be compelled to do.

and

Feign: to pretend or act.

Some of my favorite writings are those of Blasé Pascal (1623-1662), a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher. On man’s hatred of the truth regarding our own character he writes:

Man would fain be great and sees that he is little; would fain be happy and sees that he is miserable; would fain be perfect and sees that he is full of imperfections; would fain be the object of love and esteem of men, and sees that his faults merit only their aversion and contempt. The embarrassment wherein he finds himself produces in him the most unjust and criminal passions imaginable, for he conceives a mortal hatred against the truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults. ~ Blasé Pascal

We are so embarrassed by the truth of our own shortcomings that it produces in us the most unjust and criminal passions imaginable. These unjust and criminal passions manifest themselves as pride, greed, vanity, lust, apathy, envy, wrath, anger, rage, and violence. We lash out with lying tongues, hurt innocent people, devise wicked plots, run to trouble, become deceitful witnesses, and sow discord where ever we go.

Even worse, we look in the mirror and deny the truth about ourselves. We pretend, we feign rather than act with sincerity.

Sometimes we behave like hypocrites. The word “hypocrite” derives from the Greek word for acting or pretending. Webster’s defines hypocrisy as “feigning to be what one is not.” Nothing is more self-draining than hypocrisy. It takes a lot of spiritual energy to keep that “mask” on all the time. When our public persona contradicts what we know to be true when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we bleed. The spiritual hemorrhaging can be difficult to stop.

Sometimes we become “con men”. Con men understand trust and human nature very well. From the word “confidence,” they gain our trust in order to violate it. They feign one agenda, to exact another. We have all known people whom we admired and trusted, until they violated that trust. It hurts.

Sometimes we throw stones. We are so embarrassed by our own faults, rather than deal with our own iniquities; we choose to re-direct our attention towards others. Because each of us is imperfect, finding fault in others is a classic pot-calling-the-kettle-black form of hypocrisy.

And finally, many of us react to our shortcomings with Self-destructive behavior. Self-destructive behavior is often a form of self-punishment in response to personal failures, which may be real or perceived. We take to heart our own negative self-talk and or negative affirmations by others. We punish ourselves in response to the feign persona that others may have created of us.

Real sincerity means forgiving ourselves and humbling ourselves in the face of our human errors. Real sincerity means looking our faults right in the eye, the failures that are left over without any excuse after all allowances have been made, and seeing our faults in all their horror, dirt, meanness, and malice. Then forgiving ourselves and reconciling ourselves to change, to reformation, to being more virtuous.

Then we will be free to live life with more sincerity and the ensuing peace it can bring our soul.