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“Pride” is a concept that seems to get misunderstood a lot in our culture. 

“Pride” has historically been considered a “sin”— in fone of the “Seven Deadly Sins,” in fact, along with laziness, greed, and gluttony.

We’ve been told “pride goeth before a fall.” 

And yet, there are positive connotations we have with the concept of “pride” as well. 

We tell our loved ones who accomplish difficult things that we’re “proud” of them. 

We celebrate holidays that are focused on “ethnic pride.” 

Civil rights movements have sought to restore the collective “pride” of groups who have historically suffered from institutional oppression and cultural discrimination. 

So what is “pride,” a Deadly Sin or a useful emotional tool? 

As with so many concepts that speak to how humans relate to our presence and accomplishments in the world, it can be both— depending on how we understand and relate to the concept of “pride.” 

I can’t tell you what “pride” should mean to you spiritually, i.e., if it’s a Deadly Sin that should be avoided at all costs. That’s between you and your deity and your spiritual mentors. 

It’s my understanding that the religious condemnation of pride is likely rooted in many religious traditions’ wariness about humans becoming so enamored of their own accomplishments and success that they neglect to give God proper attention, credit, and respect.  

In other words, many religious traditions heavily emphasize placing worship of their “true God” above all else, and warnings against human “pride” are more than anything about keeping God in proper perspective. The sin of “pride” is thus more about NOT giving God his due, rather than giving humans their due. 

Moreover, the “pride” that we’ve been warned “goes before a fall” seems more akin to the concept of “arrogance” or “hubris” than anything else. 

It seems that this saying— “pride goeth before a fall”— often refers to the lack of humility and attention that can happen when humans become overconfident in there abilities or accomplishments. When we get too comfortable or confident in what we can do or what we can accomplish, we can sometimes get lured into not paying as close attention as we should. 

So what is the basic problem with “pride,” then? Or what can be the basic problem with pride? 

Pride becomes a problem when it takes away from our central priorities. 

Pride becomes a problem when it blinds us. 

Pride becomes a problem when we become more enthusiastic about or interested in it than our actual goals and values. 

In the end “pride” is just a label that we humans have attached to many things— recognition of progress, celebration of history, confirmation of dignity. Part of the very problem inherent in the concept of “pride” is how many people use it to mean so many different things. 

But let’s be real: ANYTHING is a problem when it blinds us. 

Intelligence, desire, money, sexuality, success, poverty— anything that makes us less focused on our goals and values, including “pride,” can be said to “goeth before a fall.” 

You can celebrate your identity your progress, your accomplishments, and your history without becoming blinded. It takes effort, though. 

It takes the willingness to go through every day with eyes wide open— even to the challenges, even to the disappointments, even to the hurt, even to the bad stuff. 

Sometimes we want to close our eyes to the bad stuff. We WANT to be blinded. 

Self-esteem can’t be built with your eyes closed tight. 

Celebrate who you are. You don’t need a special month or day or parade for that. Be aware of and celebrate your identity, celebrate how far you’ve come, celebrate the extent to which you’ve chosen to be honest with yourself and others about who you are. 

Lights aren’t meant to be hid under bushels, and we human beings can be dazzling lights indeed. 

But remember that your feelings about yourself— your “pride” in various aspects of who you are— do not remove from you the necessity to stay humble and realistic and vigilant about what you need to do, day to day, to move toward your goals and values. 

Pride doesn’t have to goeth before a fall. 

But it’s on us to manage it.

 

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