October 10, 2015 § 5 Comments
We’ve always known it brings out the worst in us, but it seems to be part of the price of self-awareness.
As soon as we realize that we are individuals, separate from others, we begin to compare.
Am I better? Am I worse? Prettier? Uglier? Smarter? Dumber? Which one of us has more stuff?
The form of pride that shares the shelf with laziness, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath and envy is the one that claims superiority by finding someone else inferior.
This form of pride can be manipulated. Want to be superior? Buy this car, not that one, this cell phone, this perfume, go to this exclusive restaurant, not the one just anyone can afford.
Promises of superiority drive much of our consumption without delivering for more than a fleeting moment, and then the siren song repeats. Not that one…this one.
This kind of pride is not good for the individual and it is driving our planet to its knees.
Collective pride legitimizes bigotry, war, salvation for us, damnation for everyone else, it condemns the kid who is different to sit alone in the school cafeteria.
Because we are self-aware, we are stuck with pride. But can pride be a force for good?
What if we drew pride not from a favorable comparison between ourselves and others, but from how well we live up to the ideals we hold?
Here are some of the ways I try to do that.
I create new things out of the bounteous and ecologically friendly raw materials, words and melody. I could fall into the trap of destructive pride and compare myself to each singer, songwriter or novelist I encounter, my worth shifting like the bubble in a spirit level.
I can’t say I never make that comparison. Pride that compares is a burr that sticks tight, but I am happiest when I enjoy everyone’s contribution, believing your success is mine and mine yours.
I make do with what is on hand. Instead of pride coming from having the most stuff, it comes from being so resourceful I don’t need more stuff. I use up everything, and imagine I am impressing the garbage men with my nearly-empty garbage can.
For each of these blog posts I push my brain out of its wagon ruts and think a new thought–and then I post it here. I want you to have it, not so you say, oh that Adrian is such a smarty-pants, but so that you will turn it over in your head, and see if it can be of some use to you, and then add what I overlooked in your comments.
I work to be a good steward of the talents and the physical body given to me in the genetic lottery.
I feel proud if I don’t squander what I have, but recognize I did nothing to earn any of these gifts, the most I can claim is that I have taken care of them.
I strive to applaud, not envy, your accomplishments. If any one of us does something well, it makes all of us look good. Go Homo sapiens!
When I manage to live these ideals I feel proud. I can’t help it, I’m human.
You are human too. So be proud, but invest your pride wisely.
Note: Pride cometh (or goeth) before a fall is Old Testament wisdom. I guess my claim about having a new thought was a bit prideful. I build on what has come before.