I don’t care what you say. I’m damned proud to be…

 I have to preface this with a story. It has absolutely nothing to do with the intent of this post, but it’s true and I wish I’d had the wit to record it. In this post, I have included two hymns I love: Simple Gifts and Amazing Grace. I was just about to call it a night and toddle off to bed  (it’s after 2AM), but decided to play Amazing Grace one more time. I couldn’t resist the chance to sing along. The moment I began to sing, all four of my dogs began to sing with me. Trust me, there is nothing quite like a chorus consisting of Judy Collins and her chorus, me, and four dogs: one dachshund, a large shaggy Australian Shepherd, a Scottie, and one puzzled Norwich Terrier who is just discovering her voice — I believe this is the first time she has joined the choir. In addition to being deafening, it was absolutely hilarious, a perfect commentary from my very own furry peanut gallery. If I was feeling excessively proud of my literary efforts, the dogs put me firmly in my place!

Pride is not a virtue. It also makes you stupid.

If you are proud to be a Christian, proud to be an American, proud of being righteous, you are a contradiction in terms and a sinner to boot. So there.

I’m not sure I believe in sin, but I do believe in right and wrong, good and evil. Is pride sinful? If you believe in sin, yes it is. But even if you don’t, pride confers a sense of privilege and superiority that is never justified.

Thrown out of Heaven for the sin of pride. Oops. That first step was a long one.

Pride evaporates free will. Proud people are poor listeners and make bad decisions for the wrong reasons.

Pride makes you think you are in control of your world when you’re not. I’ve said it before: We are passengers on the bus, not the driver. We control nothing but our pride makes us believe we are in control … so long as the bus is traveling where we want to go. When it veers off in another direction, we are devastated.

Being on the bus that is life gives us a choice: we can enjoy the ride and the company of other passengers, or shout imprecations at the driver for failing to take us where we planned to go. Trust me. It won’t help. Your world will be better if you sit back and relax. It may not be the trip you planned, but it’s the only one you’ve got.

How can something that feels so good be wrong? Damn, but pride feels great.

It brings down kings and emperors. It has caused the collapse of corporations, nations, and empires. It caused Lucifer to be ejected from Heaven. Pride got human beings kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Rather more recently, it brought down Roger Clemens and Richard Nixon. All they had to do was own up to their bad behavior, but they were too proud and down they went.

Pride keeps nations in wars they can’t win for decades, destroying entire cultures and costing tens of thousands of lives. Pride blinds you to the truth about yourself, your country, your leaders.

Pride of country, pride of family, pride in ones importance, talents and abilities: In what ways do these improve the world or your life? The prouder you are, the harder you’ll fight to keep that pride intact, defying logic and reason. Pride makes you misjudge situations and people, distorts your ability to distinguish right from wrong, and muffles the voice of your conscience. It makes you greedy, arrogant, easy to manipulate, and self-destructive. It has the same effect on nations.

Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas called Pride “inordinate self-love (that) is the cause of every sin (1,77) … the root of pride is found to consist in man not being … subject to God and His rule.”

Are you still standing proud?

Pride is defined as an excessive belief  in one’s own abilities and by extension, in the righteousness of ones causes, the rightness of ones country, the value of ones self or work, the importance of ones family. It interferes with our ability to recognize the grace of God. When Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the Earth,” he meant what he said. He didn’t make any exceptions for patriots, rich folk, or Republicans.

Pride is insidious, the sin from which all others arise. Unlike other sins which are obviously wicked or downright icky, pride feels so right, so good, so true. If you are proudly defending your country, you are already in trouble. By definition.

One afternoon when I was living in Jerusalem, a friend of mine and I climbed up on the parapets of the ruins of a Crusader castle on the southern edge of the city. It offered a fabulous view of the old Roman road that winds up the mountain past Hadassah Hospital.

I said to my friend: “They built these castles and they are just piles of stone. Where are the Romans, the Crusaders now?”

“Oh,” she said, “You know where they are. They are exactly where we will be in a few centuries. Dead and forgotten.”

I rest my case.



Categories: Ethics and Philosophy, News, Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Beautiful piece.

    Another definition: “proud flesh” sticks out. And if you have proud flesh on a cut or infection, it hurts. It really hurts. There’s a correlation here somehow.

    Like

    • I have trouble with people who announce how Christian they are but cannot comprehend that Pride is *not *a Christian virtue. On the whole, the most vociferous Christians don’t seem to know a whole lot about what they proclaim to be their faith. If ignorance is truly bliss, there are a lot of ecstatically happy folks around.

      Like

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