Mariner and an old friend visited yesterday. The conversation rambled across many experiences, opinions and bad jokes. Part of the discussion centered on the failure of expectations in family life and on the motivations that promote goodness or destructiveness. At one point in the conversation, the role of pride was the focus. It reminded mariner of an old sermon he preached a time or two about pride.
The word ‘pride’ occurs in many different circumstances and under an assortment of conditions. Why is a family of lions called a pride? Is there a nuanced meaning? A frequently used aphorism is ‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Proverbs 16:18). Change the noun pride into the adjective proud and a specific definition is difficult to abide by; a common skeptical retort is “Well aren’t we proud?” Wikipedia settled on the following description for pride:
“Pride is an inwardly directed emotional term that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. In Judaism, pride is called the root of all evil. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.”
With such polarized meaning, there must be another dimension to pride that makes it as important as it seems to be. That dimension also is an inwardly directed emotional term: Love. On the one hand, pride, or hubris, is a defense mechanism to compensate for perceived incompetence or inadequate self-esteem, often caused by unsuccessful relationships with family or significant others. Angst and insecurity are common sensations.
At the other end, one may feel arrival, achievement, creativity and silent reward. Real pride grows the spirit not only of the individual but of those who receive benefit from the individual’s efforts.
To connect this human phenomenon to religion (quite briefly), major religions believe the power of creation and salvation is love. Love creates salvation whether now or in the afterlife. When an individual improves the state of human affairs without personal reward, one has created with love.
If one wants to grow inside and feel good about it, try love. One can be proud.