Pride

Since making this post I’ve been seeing references to pride everywhere. Parents attempt to instill in their kids “a sense of pride”, schools promote school pride, manufacturers advertise their products as being “proudly made in the U.S.A.”, the U.S. Marines are “The Few, The Proud…”, American Indian tribes are said to be “a Proud People” and so on and on as though it were a good thing. Even otherwise pretty good Christians speak of their pride as though it were a virtue, and yet pride is right there among the seven deadly sins.

We may as well be bragging about our lust, our greed, our gluttony, wrath and so on, and promoting those things to our kids.
“That’s a good company– they’re gluttonous Americans.”
“Bob here is a good guy– he’s a slothful member of our team.”
“I like Jane– she’s a wrathful, envious person.”
“The few, The Greedy, The Marines.”

It strikes as funny is all, but maybe I’m missing something. None of those would be taken as compliments. Is there another definition of pride that makes it a good thing?

14 thoughts on “Pride

  1. The “Deadly 7” were written by a group of men who were prideful of their religion. While I would stand that this hypocrisy negates all their authority on what is or is not sinful, it moreso just proves how shitty just about any authoritative body can be.

    Now, if they would have spoken to the “righteousness” of moderation, I believe they would have been seen as reasonable. But when they have the power, why squander it?

    • Hmm. I never considered the opinion any particular “authority”. I just assumed (and observed) that pride, like greed, et al, was one of those things than can get a person into trouble, turning a good situation into a bad one, completely without regard to what someone with a title said about it.

      So on one hand we have all the things people say and write about stuff, and on the other hand there is reality. Hopefully there would be a lot of overlap between the two, but not necessarily.

    • Ok so upholding righteousness in moderation is sort of the same thing as regarding pride as a sin, but that’s assuming you have an idea of some of the specific things that often need moderated. Hence the list, I would think.

  2. I am proud of my daughter joining the army and successfully completing her advanced training to be a radiology tech. Not sure how that can be bad.

  3. I think there are 2 forms of pride, one OK and one bad. The OK one would be the feeling of self-respect you have for doing something well, or being associated with something positive.

    The bad one is the one that causes problems, the “too proud to do manual labor,” or “too proud to associate with /those/ people” kind of pride.

    • Maybe the problem is that the former kind can readilty morph into the latter when we’re not paying attention.

      • Pride in one’s education level or professional achievement for example, has resulted in, for one example, George Bernard Shaw calling for a government panel that demands everyone justify their own existence. To paraphrase Shaw; “If you’re not producing as much as you consume, or perhaps a little bit more, then your life isn’t worth much to anyone else, or even to yourself, and we have to ask why we’re using resources to keep you alive.”

        Progressives then, are a very proud people.

  4. The Greeks had one word for the “good” sort of pride, the justified recognition of self-worth at being good and doing good, and another word for the “bad pride,” the overweening, cock-sure, self-destructive sort of pride they called “hubris.” The feeling of reasonable self-confidence a person has in doing good things simply because they are good things to do, and doing them well, a pride associated with a modest self-respect, is fine.
    The hubris that Obama feels in all things O isn’t.

    • ^^This^^

      There’s justified, deserved pride, properly enjoyed and expressed through the lens of humility. The calm satisfaction of a job well done, the quiet recognition of a culture rooted in redeeming qualities. This type of pride is OK; it’s built around self-worth and serves as a motivator for future generations to excel.

      And then there’s unjustified, undeserved pride, which cannot be humbly enjoyed expressly because it’s undeserved; it must be bragged about and rubbed in others’ collective faces. Real humility goes right out the window because the falsely prideful person, in his/her heart of hearts, knows that he/she has nothing to be proud of. It’s a false front, put up solely to impress others. By its very nature – being unjustified and undeserved – it cannot motivate others to succeed.

      As Rolf said, the Greeks knew the difference and had different words for both types of pride. We’re not so fortunate, so we have to be aware of the difference and wary of people exhibiting false pride.

      • There’s good stuff here. Thanks to all. There is then what might be called “justifiable pride” that’s still rather pathological. Examples abound of people of real accomplishment who rub it in other people’s faces. There is a very accomplished, famous and rich musician who was famous also for his lengthy, loud and cruel rants to the other members of his band for one example, and one or two of the high tech billionaires haven’t exactly showed humility or gratitude.

        Looking back, I’ve been guilty of some of same kind of “pride” myself. Even though I’m certainly no rich man or towering success, I do have abilities which have pleased me and I have been known to flaunt them.

        So maybe we’re talking about the need to overcome forms of doubt and insecurity, which Christians would attribute to a lack of faith, or to “sin” (literally; missing the mark, or straying from the path). Any of us can have achieved real accomplishment, or many of them, and still have doubts and insecurities that lead us to attempt to elevate ourselves by seeking approval from other people, or to over-react in the face of criticism. Those in the lime light are often tested in this, with outrageous criticism, insults and lies, to see how they’ll react. We’re all tested, even by friends and family.

        So yes; that “lens of humility” is a key component, if it’s real and not feigned, which leads to the concept of doing the right things for the wrong reasons, of which I am also guilty.

  5. As a Latter-day Saint, we have had our own interesting phase in our culture, where stating that you were “prideful” in anything was something we generally avoided.

    This was a result of one of our Prophets giving a memorable talk about pride, and how a certain “Pride Cycle” led to the destruction of at least two different civilizations in the Book of Mormon. The cycle goes something like this: humility and following the commandments leads to prosperity, prosperity leads to pride, which leads to forgetting God, which leads to breaking his commandments, which leads to chastisement, which leads to humility…

    If you’re careful, you can keep yourself at the “prosperous” point, if you maintain humility; if you get stuck in chastisement (never going to humility) you (or even civilization itself) will be destroyed.

    In that talk, pride was simply and clearly defined as “Enmity against God or your fellow man.” Examples given were the rich who look down upon the poor because of their riches, or the poor who hate the rich because of envy.

    Now, to be sure, appreciating, and even celebrating, someone’s achievements, isn’t enmity, nor is appreciating when you yourself have achieved something; thus, those of us who were afraid of using the word “pride” to describe this were going overboard (and if I recall correctly, I may have fallen into this trap myself); however, this is probably the result of English having “pride” doing double-duty, as explained by Rolf.

    Incidentally, I think it’s the greatest conceit, and the wrong kind of pride, to believe that with the right set of rules and enough enforcement, we can achieve the perfect society…which is a major reason why I’m a libertarian!

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