Pride in its Many Forms

Pride is listed as one of the seven deadly sins in Christianity. While I can see many arguments about pride being the downfall of many a great men (and women), I can hardly see the justification for it being categorized as a “deadly” sin.

Being prideful is not a sin.

There, I said it, and I will stand behind it. It is not a sin to take pride in your work, it is not a sin to have some backbone, and it is definitely not a sin to have a pair (for the men, and for the women, excuse my language).

There is a fine line between pride and arrogance, between pride and ignorance, between pride and insolence. But however fine this line is, there is a line, and this line separates pride from the rest of the colorful vocabularies with their excessive negative-connotations. So what separates pride from the rest of those insult-laden, temper-raising, condescending words? Context. You can never use arrogance, ignorance or insolence in a good way; you can never describe a person as arrogant to portray that person in a good light.

But we’re not here to discuss about the usage of a word, we’re here to
discuss the concept of pride.

There are many forms of pride, pride in one self, pride in one’s work, pride in others, pride in nation, pride in results, to list just a few. To be proud is to grant the sense of accomplishment, either to one self or to another, this sense of accomplishment leads to a sense of satisfaction, which can be addictive. It is not difficult from here to see why the church grouped pride with the rest of the seven deadly sins; addiction is a powerful definition for things we consider to be bad. Just look at the society today, anything that’s addictive is usually associated with negative publicity, drugs, alcoholism, smoking, etc.

So is pride a bad thing because it generates a sense of accomplishment that can potentially lead to addiction? This is a classic example of a slippery slope argument, but are there truths to it? Possibly. There is a quote I am quite found of, “moderation in all things”. It is hard to argue that water is a daily necessity for our survival, but excessive water is disastrous. Pride is similar, and I believe everyone can use a healthy dosage of pride every now and then.

There is an excessive sense of humbleness in Japan. People in this country will usually tell you their work is not good enough, that they can do better, and that there are more improvements to be done.

Well, do them.

It always boggles my mind that people will actively degrade their own work. If you have accomplished something, you should be proud and show it to others that you’re proud. It is contradictory to be proud inside but show false humility outside. If a piece of work is great, actively say so. The act of lying to others and to oneself is not only unhealthy but can cause a subconscious inferiority complex that will hinder future work.

I am a firm believer in taking pride in one’s own work. If I have put in the time and effort to accomplish something, I will take pride in it and say so. If I did an half-assed job, I will also actively say so. Being truthful and giving oneself the satisfaction on appreciating a job-well-done is something I believe everyone deserves after a hard day of work.

This, I think, is the bottom line – being truthful. Pride can easily turn into arrogance if one is not truthful with him/herself. Narcissism is just one short step away from pride, and many would fall into the trap and become overly prideful and step into the realm of self-indulgence and praise. To have a good balance and a sense of self-knowing, acknowledging one’s own work, and realizing when to improve will allow for growth and maturity.

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A Case for Risk

Risk, people of our generation that have grown up without knowing poverty seems to be especially averse to it. Perhaps it’s due to the lack of hardship, perhaps it’s due to the pampering of our loving parents, or perhaps it’s just the convenience of our technological advancement. Regardless of the reason, the younger generation do not like to take risks or challenge themselves, opting to take the easy route for simpler rewards.

I can attest to this with personal experiences. Just last weekend in a competition of over 2000 people, after 16 rounds of grueling matches I was ranked 43 and my opponent 48. Only those who makes it to top 64 can walk away with prize money. Unsurprisingly my opponent wanted to draw so we both can be in top 64. My thought at that moment was if I draw, yes it will be simple and I won’t risk losing and a possibility of being out of top 64, but by playing I have a chance to make more money, plus it’ll be a good learning experience.
In the end I won that match by a large margin and knocked my opponent out of top 64. Do I feel somewhat bad for denying someone an easy chance to make prize? Yes a little. However I believe he didn’t really deserve it if he isn’t prepared to lose the last round. Taking the easy way out will net people small rewards, but it will also deny them a valuable chance to grow. By opting to play, I felt I made the conscious decision to not back out and thus set a precedence for me to further challenge myself in the future. Besides, which story would be more interesting to tell my friends, that I drew into top 64 for some easy money, or that I mercilessly crushed some poor dude to secure a place in the top 32 for bigger prizes? I have a cynical reputation to uphold here as well…
Overall I think the most important point to take away here is, don’t be afraid to take challenges, don’t be afraid of change and try to explore all the possibilities. Many people would rather live in the city they were born in for their entire lives without moving because it’s “comfortable”, but are they really comfortable? Or is that just an illusion impressed upon them because they never lived anywhere else and therefore have nothing to make a comparison to? In this modern day and age where traveling is so much simpler, everyone should take advantage of the convenience and explore the world. We are becoming more and more globalized, we don’t need people who are afraid of change and challenge in this day and age, we need people who embrace them.