>The word Pride has entered the room of my mind lately. We talk a lot about it in this country. We are proud of our troops. We are proud of our country. Some of us have stickers on our cars, which say we are the proud parents of our Honor student at such and such school.
But what does it really mean to be proud?
In the dictionary pride is defined as:
a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired • the consciousness of one’s own dignity • the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance : the sin of pride.• a person or thing that is the object or source of a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction
I see two qualities of pride listed in this definition. One I would call Authentic Pride and the other Selfish Pride, and it seems our pride can and should evolve from one to the other.
Do we think we come from selfish beginnings; that is, born of the sin of pride? Or did we evolve into this place of selfish pride? Do we think we can evolve beyond selfish pride, and into pride which is authentic? If so, how?
Where is the evolution of your pride?
I have never been a fan of the I am the proud parent of my honor student bumper sticker. At Waldorf, where my child attends, their bumper sticker reads: every child is an honored student at Waldorf. I also have never been one to proudly flash my flag on my car or in front of my house, or anywhere for that matter. Not even on the 4th of July. However after 9-11 I bought my first American flag and stuck it on my car. I took off the sticker shortly after the authentic pride began to feel exclusive to only the “right” Americans, and arrogance took over the land.
Selfish pride makes us feel we are somehow special and unique, as if our trials and our triumphs could never be like anyone else’s. We don’t ask for help when we need it, and some don’t even know they need it. This kind of pride, if encouraged long enough can break us off into the sea where we are now an island all by ourself; therefore making us feel even more special and unique.
Selfish pride can ruin a relationship. It can and has ruined a country, but all that it takes is one authentic moment of pride to turn the ruin into triumph. We witnessed this moment the night Barack Obama was elected and he walked onto the stage at Grant Park. This moment of Pride was not only of his own, but one for us all. He did not have a “I have got them now to do what I would like” grin on his face. He had a “We have got eachother to do what we all can do” smile on his face. His eyes were not gleaming with arrogance. His eyes shining soft and humble. He did not prance around on the stage as if to say look at me. He graciously walked onto the stage as if to say, look at us.
I am inspired we will as a nation turn our once selfish Pride, believing we were special and unique, and turn into authentic Pride where we know we are looking toward the same horizon. But it won’t be easy. What must we sacrifice in order to JOIN the land once again from our isolation out at sea?
We can begin by investigating our own sense of pride. What are we proud about? For example, are we proud of our children? Is it only our children we feel proud about? Do we feel the need to tell others how proud we are? How does it make us feel when we tell them? Does it feel centered in the heart or in the head? Does it feel shallow or deep? For instance in the head, there might be thoughts such as- look at how great my kid is or in the heart there is a quiet, deep pride where we feel grateful for the way our child is developing and we appreciate all the intricacies of our child. We may even want to expand ourselves to help other children and we feel no need to voice any of this.
Which feels more real? The easiest way to tell if our pride is authentic or selfish is to ask if it supports only our own beliefs and agenda- the part of us that needs recognition, or does it serve something larger. Is it inclusive or exclusive?
To come to a space inside of our selves where we can be full of pride in a gracious, inclusive and accepting way means we must look at where we are not, and deciding if we want to feel more separate- out in the sea alone or joined together with everyone and everything where we know we are all special. If so, we must give up our desire to be a special island for others to hopefully admire. We must instead choose to bring our special island back to the shore and reunite with the land. It is here where we can truly restore our world together.
To feel the pride of togetherness will fill our entire being with joy and gratitude. To allow this to fill us will become so pleasant we will not be able to go back to where we are separately prideful. It will be too painful. But first we must choose where we will stand. Together or alone.