Authenticity seems like a great goal. Who wants to talk to someone pretending to be someone else?
True authenticity, however, is hard to achieve and may be more a good thing that happens when we do other good things that a thing we should make a goal of living. The moment someone says “I am being authentic” one can assume they are not being authentic, even if they are sincere in their desire to do so.
The examination of self that states “I am authentic” is an attempt to get outside of what is to see what one is and compare that to what one is expressing. If we are putting up an intentional false front, then we should stop, but the very process is not what I am.
Maybe we should applaud authenticity, but not work toward it.
We should note that in a great many situations good manners should trump authenticity. I do not have to be “fake” to share less in cases where my sharing tramples over other people’s moment.
Imagine being foolish enough to relate your own experience when someone else is sharing their own! I can, because this is a besetting rudeness in me. Just because my authentic response is to relate what Hope is saying to my thoughts, does not mean this is the time to share my thoughts. In fact, even if I am actually not interested in what she is saying, this is (almost surely) a fault in me. Instead of being “authentic” and looking bored, I should work to become interested!
Authenticity would be better if it were not always applied to the present. Part of what makes you you is a desire to be a better you. It is not inauthentic to put this you that is striving to be more loving, less selfish, and more kind on display. The dullard knows only the self that is, but the wise live their moral aspirations.
I can love my enemy today in deeds, even if the feelings are not there until tomorrow.
In fact, most of the qualities we admire in authenticity would exist in a moral man. If I do not lie, then fakery is impossible. If I know myself, the essence of true philosophy, then I will not be so out of touch with self as to put up a false front without know it. If God grants me humility, I will not be deluded into thinking that my experience trumps that of everyone else. I will not demand that everyone weep, just because I am weeping.
The law of a love is our guide, not the law of being true to self. We are not always as we should be and so authenticity as a goal is less worthy than love. God grant that my authentic self by one that knows what love really is, unlike my young self, and so sees goodness, truth, and beauty.