A Healthy Sense Of Pride In Who You Are

It should not be a controversial statement to believe that everyone should have a healthy sense of pride in who one is. To be sure, there is plenty of disagreement that can take place over what involves a healthy sense of pride and what aspects of one’s identity are to be viewed with a sense of dignity, but whether one is a religious person (as I am) or not, it is generally pretty well agreed upon that humanity has good reason to feel some sense of dignity in who we are as human beings. Even those who try to avoid labels of speciesim (and I am without question a speciesist myself) tend to view the value of life highly and thus at least in practice have a high view of humanity because they have a high view of themselves as enlightened human beings. One of the native proclivities of humanity is for us to feel some sense of pride in ourselves, and as I have noted before [1], this tendency is so universal that there must be some value in it and some way that it can be turned to the good, for it can all too easy be turned to evil.

While having a healthy sense of self-regard does not mean we will generally respect others better–as our contemporary generation has demonstrated all too thoroughly–one cannot really respect others without respecting oneself. And if the goal is to treat others with dignity and respect, and not merely craven fear, it must come from a position of strength that comes from knowing ourselves and knowing our worth. This need not be pride in ourselves directly, but can often be an indirect pride, in acknowledging the legacy of greatness of those who came before us in our societies or cultures or ethnicities, in knowing what we have to value from our religious traditions and the human capital that has been built up by our family’s past, and from the knowledge that God does not create junk or any other number of ways. Having the proper sense of appreciation for those who came before, a recognition that we are not to blame for any of the mistakes of our fathers, and that we need not be ashamed of the advantages we receive based on our background or God-given talents and abilities but simply have a responsibility to do the best with them and serve not only our own interests thereby but the interests of others as well. A healthy sense of pride carries with it a sense of dignity but also a desire to elevate others as well as ourselves.

One of the ways that we may better determine whether we have a healthy sense of pride in who we are or not is the attitude we have to the well-being of others. If our native response is to celebrate when good things happen to others, coupled with the wish for good things to happen to ourselves, we can appreciate that our sense of pride is not infected with the poisonous envy that is all too common in our evil age. If our attitude is to claim that any success or well-being that comes to others is the result of some kind of imaginary structural bias in their favor or some sort of corruption, and to denigrate others as being unworthy of receiving blessings, we ought to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. To be sure, sometimes people do succeed due to corruption or connections that other people have, but developing a familiarity with the ways of others can also frequently give us a better understanding of what it takes to succeed. And while sometimes people fear competition and do not wish to teach others the secrets (such as they are) of their success, there are frequently a great many things that need to be done and many times others appreciate being able to pass on some sort of knowledge that will help these necessary things to be done by more hands. It is frequently the case that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, just as it is true that many people long for and seek opportunities that never come their way.

We live in a world that constantly wishes to assail our sense of dignity in who we are. We receive all kinds of messages through the marketing techniques of companies or our interactions with others that we are defective in who we are and need something else and someone else to validate who we are, even as we receive other messages that tell us to be proud of some aspect of our identity, so that we may compete against those of a different identity who are in competition with us for scarce social resources as well as the all-important dignity and respect that we feed off as much we require air, water, and food in order to survive. All too often in history and in our contemporary world, the pride that we feel in ourselves is a competitive one, believing that to elevate ourselves requires tearing someone else down, or that getting our fair share requires taking what others have. All too often we are our own worst enemies when it comes to success because our envy and hatred towards those who do well prevent us from learning and profiting by their example and poison any goodwill that they may have towards us. If we hate those who are successful and want to tear them down, and fail to acquire the habits and insight that allows us to do better ourselves, we can justly blame no one else for our failures. To the extent that we struggle, it is worthwhile to remember that everyone, no matter their advantages, feels a sense of struggle, and that to live in a world as hostile as our own requires all to struggle alike, no matter how easy life may look for someone else. To the extent that we can realize these things, we can feel a sense of dignity that does not require others to suffer any harm to their own. For we will have no lasting elevation if moving up requires dragging someone else down, for that will only create many more hands willing and motivated to drag us down in turn.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2020/08/05/on-the-suppression-of-natural-feeling/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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