Scheinheiligkeit is a German term that translates to “sanctimoniousness” or “hypocrisy,”. The notion of Scheinheiligkeit suggests a discrepancy between the actions, beliefs, or values expressed by individuals or institutions and their true intentions or behaviour.
At its core, Scheinheiligkeit encapsulates the act of hypocritically judging others while simultaneously failing to live up to the same standards oneself. This form of hypocrisy can manifest in various aspects of life, including politics, religion, social interactions, and personal ethics.
To fully understand the prevalence of Scheinheiligkeit in German society, it is important to consider its historical roots. Germany has a tumultuous past, including the horrors of World War II and the subsequent division and reunification of the country. These historical events have shaped German culture and left a lasting impact on the collective consciousness. As a result, Germans have developed a deep sense of responsibility, often driven by a desire to avoid repeating past mistakes.
In the political sphere, Scheinheiligkeit can be observed in the moral judgements and actions of politicians. Germany is known for its commitment to human rights, environmental sustainability, and social justice. However, critics argue that politicians often engage in empty rhetoric and virtue signalling without taking concrete actions to address these issues. This perception of Scheinheiligkeit is fuelled by instances where politicians make promises they fail to fulfil or engage in behaviours inconsistent with their proclaimed values.
Germany has a rich religious history, with Christianity being the dominant faith. Scheinheiligkeit can be seen in instances where religious leaders or individuals claim to follow religious doctrines while engaging in actions that contradict these teachings. It is important to note that Scheinheiligkeit is not exclusive to any particular religion but can be observed across various religious communities.
German society allegedly values politeness, orderliness, and adherence to rules. However, some argue that this cultural emphasis on outward appearances often masks underlying hypocrisy. Examples include individuals who judge others for minor infractions while overlooking their own transgressions or those who promote inclusivity but harbour deep-seated biases. Such instances of Scheinheiligkeit perpetuate a culture of judgement and moral superiority.
Germany takes pride in its cultural heritage, including its contributions to art, literature, and philosophy. However, some argue that this cultural pride can lead to a form of Scheinheiligkeit. Germans may judge or dismiss cultural expressions from other nations while placing their own on a pedestal, thus perpetuating a sense of cultural superiority and exclusion.