Thursday, March 8, 2012

On Pride

Pride is an emotion that everyone knows about, but few understand. Understand, most of the emotional spectrum is largely mysterious but pride is one of the most complex. For literally millennia, philosophers and (more recently) psychologists have tried to figure out what to make of it. To some people, it's a vice and to others a virtue. To the majority, it's both, depending on your perspective. St. John Cassian listed it among the seven deadly sins while Aristotle heralded it as a virtue.
One subject responsible for much controversy is when it's appropriate to be proud. These same people who regularly say that "Pride cometh before a fall" are the first to say that they're proud of their children and to be an American. Race, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, beauty, strength, intelligence, wealth; any number of these can be a source of pride. But there are certain cultural stigmas that make these difficult to express. It's not uncommon to see people who are proud to be black, but nobody seems to be proud of being white. Proud to be gay, proud to be a woman, but no proud to be straight, proud to be a man. It seems like if someone said they were proud to be a white straight American man, he'd find himself tarred and feathered.
Where does this contention come from? I've heard people criticize Black History Month by asking why there isn't a white history month. While the response is generally a sarcastic "Every month is white history month", the question goes unanswered. Why do people find it so offensive to want a white history month? Is it racist to be proud of your race? If so, why does it only apply to whites? My ancestors were Romani or "Gypsies". The Gypsies...well, Gypsies are about two steps to the left from hippies. It's hard to have a slave when you live in a wagon.

The face of oppression?  Source

That being said, why would it be offensive for me to say I'm proud to be white if my ancestors were never guilty of anything worse than petty theft, petty cursing, and petty murder? A large part of it stems from the lack of general understanding of the word "pride". All too often, it's confused with vanity. Vanity is Pride's ugly stepsister who wears too much makeup. Vanity is a false pride. It's pretty much what you call bragging when you're full of crap. Now that I think about it, just about anyone who brags is full of crap.
Vanity stems from an insecurity, a fear that you are not, in fact, fucking awesome.

Pictured: Fucking awesome. Source

 That's the official definition and you can look it up. Go ahead, I'll wait. Done? Good. Like every good thing, there are a bunch of posers who have to ruin it for everybody. Take the Freedom of Speech for example. Absolutely great freedom that we all enjoy, but then you have those people who have to ruin it for everybody. Probably the biggest violators of this inherent trust are the vocal members of the atheist/Christian debate. By citing their Constitutional rights, people feel like they should be able to get away with anything. The First Amendment protects us from government censorship and Freedom of Religion. While it can be claimed that it also give Freedom from Religion, the government has no right to interfere in expressions of religion.
A proud man doesn't need to prove his pride to others. He can say he's proud of his race/religion/appearance/breed of fish and if someone asks why, he says "Because I am." You don't need to give reasons for someone else to know why you're proud. You can if you'd like, but don't ever let the reason  start with a comparison to someone else. If someone says they're proud to be an American because Sudan is an oppressive country, they're not secure in their pride. It's a display of vanity to be proud because you drag down someone else. Who would you say has reason to be proud: the muscle man laying out and getting some sun or the body builder who has to bully people smaller than him?
It's the difference between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Whatever you may think of them, their teachings can boil down to this: Malcolm X - "Black people are awesome because white people suck!" Martin Luther King "Black people are awesome!" Don't misunderstand me, I'm not claiming to have an opinion on the significance of either civil rights leader and it's an oversimplification, but you get my meaning. Don't ever say you're proud to be a Christian (or an atheist) because the Muslims (or Christians) do so and so, such and such, blablabla your needs. Maya Angelou said "For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place." When was the last time you heard someone say something that beautiful about being white?

Simply majestic. Like poetry for the eyes.

But you have to be careful with pride. Look inside yourself and ask if this is really something to be proud of. A perfect example is gay pride. I don't have any opinion on gay people. But is that really something to define yourself with? I've been accused of being metrosexual, but am happily straight. Do I take pride in this? Not really. For most people, sex isn't far removed from assisted masturbation and I don't see anyone taking pride in their Asian midget porn. You have to find what, if anything, defines you. Are you as simple as being summed up by your sexuality? Your race, age, or gender? In the end, can you truly be proud of being anything but you?
Some people take this as proof that pride is useless. This pretty much sums up secularism. Word it how you like, but in the end secularism is the destruction of individualism. A pretty lofty accusation, I know, but hear me out. In a completely secular society, there is no distinction between race, gender, or religion. Everything that separates people is broken down and fades away. There are no white or black people, no women or men (philosophically, not genetically) or religions and nations. This is everything that composes a culture. It is the foundation for globalism, which to some is a good thing. Nothing here but us humans, isn't it great? But...who are we trying to impress? There's nobody to judge us but ourselves and, short of fascism, this system is impossible. It destroys the Archetypal concepts of Father and Mother, Heroes and Villains. With no conflict, how can we define ourselves?
To some, this sounds like I have some kind of agenda when I don't. I don't give two figs about politics or religion, but these issues interest me. I don't hate anyone, nor do I envy other people's lifestyles. I'm happy with who I am and I wouldn't have me any other way. I'm proud of being me. Why?

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