The Burden Of Publicly Identifying With A Group

One of my Facebook friends wrote: “Irony of the day: I just got cut off (and almost had an accident) by a car that has “Jesus says repent your sins” written in English and Hebrew on the rear windshield. Mr Bilingual Jesus Freak didn’t even apologize! Is THAT what Jesus would do?!”

If you are public about who you are, you can get away with less. People are always quick to call out bad behavior by Jews or Christians or Muslims or anyone else who wears their identity on their sleeve (if that identity carries with it a defined behavioral system).

People would act a lot better in public if they walked around and drove around with big name tags.

I don’t praise the bad driving of this believer in Jesus, but I think it is great that he publicly identifies with a group because people will then be more likely to call him out on stuff.

It’s like those employees who drive with vehicles that prominently list a phone number to call if you are concerned about the person’s driving.

If a secular person with no public identity had cut off my Facebook friend, she would not have made a Facebook status update complaining about people who don’t publicly identify with a values system. Nobody would comment that a person with no public identity should practice what he’s preaching because people with no public identification to a values system aren’t preaching anything and therefore they can get away with more bad behavior.

I love hypocrisy. Hypocrisy means there are standards. Hypocrisy means we’re failing to live up to our ideals. Without such ideals, there’s less striving for higher moral ground.

Hypocrisy is only possible if a person has an allegiance to a values system. Secularists, for instance, aren’t accountable to a Ten Commandments or the like. I am an Orthodox Jew and I am accountable to thousands of Jewish laws. I walk around in a yarmulke, beard and tzitzit. I am very publicly Jewish. People therefore feel more comfortable calling me out. Being human, I don’t live up to all of Judaism’s laws. It is easy to call me a hypocrite.

If there were more hypocrites like me, the world would be a better place.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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