We're all told not to be hypocrites, and that's where the problems begin. We aren't “allowed” to care about animal rights if we love hamburgers, or about the environment if we drive a car. We are pillared for caring about the poor if we live in a nice house or wanting people to be fed and eating quality food at home. This attitude starts shutting our brains down as teens and keeps on into middle age as we work to support a family. That's why in middle age we either shut down or break down (the only alternative is to wake up, to remember who we were as teens or even as younger children). So teens, if you learn the art of being a good hypocrite now you will never shut down or break down, you'll just stay beautifully awake and in tuned to your own wonderful nature, the good person I know you are inside.
I once had a chat with my own daughter who is passionate about animal rights. We discussed a mythical person we called Bob. Bob ate burgers every lunch time, what would she think about him? Well, she thought he didn't care for animals (she was quite young at the time). Then we changed the story just a little; Bob who eats the burgers volunteers at an animal shelter every month because he feels bad for the kitty's in the cages and wants them to be happy. Well, now she thinks Bob is a great guy and wants to be his friend. Maybe, if we take it further, all Bob can afford to eat is burgers. His Mom (single mom) works at a burger place and he eats for free (or at least at a discount). What now? The thing is, very few of us ever get past that first impression and get stuck with the “Ugh, that guy doesn't care about animals! I won't like him!” We could all do with being a little more Keanu Reeves in “Wayne's world” about how we approach others, try to understand and be friendly. Totally.
So how does “Bob” tie in with being a good hypocrite? Well, maybe Bob is struggling with other issues and his diet is the last thing on his mind right now. Maybe he's really concerned about LGBT rights, pollution, mental health/stigma, that his folks are fighting, that the rent is overdue... Maybe Bob is being a good hypocrite in his own way, triaging his own life as issues arise. For those of us who have the ability to think more broadly than where our next meal is coming from, then we are truly one of the most fortunate on earth, and need to keep that in mind.
For us that have enough food, the good news is that we can care about everything! We can want zero waste, zero pollution, healthy ecosystems, everyone fed, peace, equality, fair treatment of all, liberty, fraternity... But to try “walking that walk” with the way earth is now... not even remotely possible. To stay sane, to not shut down, you need to be a “good hypocrite.” You need to be able to see all the issues and still live your life knowing that you'll do what you can to be part of the solution. That may be as simple as changing the way you think to something more open minded, an attitude of learning about others, getting to stage two and three of the “Bob” story rather than getting stuck on an initial reflex of “Ugh!” What we do as a society is to take different parts of the “pie” – environment, humanitarian, social justice... That just makes sense so long as we realize that the environmentalist just chose that part of the “puzzle” to work on, it doesn't meant that they aren't also a humanitarian that wants liberty, fraternity & equality.
So in short, to save your own mental health as you transition from teenage years to being an adult, learn how to be a good hypocrite. You can drive a car and want a world where we work from home and don't need cars anymore. You can eat meat and campaign for better treatment of farm animals. You can be rich and want the world's poor to have food and shelter. You can be on a private medical plan and campaign for everyone to have access to first class medical treatment regardless of income. We are supposed to care, we are mammals capable of deep love and emotional bonds; we are supposed to stay open hearted, to retain our humanity no matter what. We are supposed to be true to our own natures, yet also to be the angels of our better natures.