EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: You want an executive summary? Why don’t cha read the summary at the end of this post and pretend it came first? I’m too lazy to type it out twice, you see.
(About a 5 minute read)
We Americans — both men and women — are known worldwide for the fierce pride we take
in scoring sex, but why everyone these days wants to write a musical score for sex is beyond little old celibate me in just about everything American. Sometimes that pride is actually justified.
For example, my pride in the moon landings is fully justified by the fact I had a personal hand in them. After all, I personally watched them on TV, and I’ll never forget that I personally cheered on the astronauts.
But whether justified or not, that’s one of the things we’re known for. However, the question arises like a bulge in a boy’s pants on prom night what the value of pride is?
Certainly it has political and social value because it is one of the things that unites us as a nation — even more than our love for assassinating each other’s characters. But does it have any personal value?
I think it may have some. I can think of times in my life when pride was almost all that kept me going. It might also have been a motivator during less extreme times, but during those times, there were usually several other motivators at play, so I’m not too sure it can be argued that pride is necessary outside of extreme circumstances. It might be, but maybe it only helps then.
Is there such a thing as too much pride? I think most of us would agree there is. It seems pride can ignite arrogance.
“Arrogance” of course, is the pride people I don’t much care for take. Pride, on the other hand, is clearly distinct from arrogance by being the arrogance that me and my friends take. So, I think there can be too much pride in the sense that it can turn into arrogance.
But is that all there is to it? I think we should look at that question with the careful diligence of a 17 year old boy oiling his zipper on prom night in order to prevent it from becoming stuck and thus mortally disappointing his date. Consider: We only take pride in things we believe to be good.
But believing something is good can be a like accidentally driving over a rabbit. On the one hand, you killed a cute, innocent fellow creature that was harming no one. On the other hand, you’ve got some darn good eats now.
On the one hand, believing some trait of ours is good — say, our kindness, intelligence, or diligence at oiling zippers — is fairly innocuous. But on the other hand, we humans have an entrenched tendency to judge others according to what we see as good in ourselves.
Therefore, if we take pride in how well we sharpen pencils, and thus deem ourselves good at it, we will almost inevitably look down our noses a bit at anyone who muffs the job.
Some people might not think that’s such a bad thing, but imagine how it can screw things up for you, leading to behavior that is not only obnoxious to others, but at least borderline dysfunctional for you.
For instance, you take immense pride in your mastery of the art of perfuming yourself. The more your pride grows, the more narrowly you view other people. Ultimately, you come to judge them exclusively on the adeptness with which they perfume themselves.
Along comes a very talented tap dancer. She performs for you “Smoke on the Water” by tapping it out in the nude on your belly one night in her bare feet, thus suggestively attempting to seduce you into engaging in wild recreational sex acts such as you have fantasized and dreamed about ever since that unholy night you forgot to oil your zipper and, consequently, have remained a virgin ever since. However, there is something off about her perfume.
Now, if you were any less proud, you might still attain to the blissful sex you have so far in your 73 years only imagined attaining to. But — sorry for you! — you are so proud of your skills at perfuming yourself that you simply cannot bring yourself to encourage her.
Who would want that for themselves? To sum, the more pride we take in something, the more we tend to judge others exclusively on what we take pride in. This can lead to our somewhat dehumanizing them — that is, narrowly judging them, rather than taking them into account as whole persons. But it can also lead to our dysfunctional treatment of them, which might boomerang back to us.
Questions? Comments? Requests for clarification of the proper oil to use for zippers? True allegations I only know of the tragedies that can happen on prom night because they all happened to me?