I’ve wanted to tackle this topic before. For several years, actually. Truth is, I haven’t written an article about it because there is so much I want to say, with such a tremendous desire to say it correctly. I still don’t think I’m prepared to do that, but I’ve chosen to create this article anyway, because achieving perfection is impossible. Weeks ago, I reached a breaking point where I feel I need to speak my mind on this, and you’ll see why.
Pride is a Virtue, Not a Sin
I am absolutely convinced that religion is the primary source of ignorance (and hatred) in the world. One thing that all religions seem to teach is that we must hate ourselves and submit ourselves to the will of higher beings. Religion as a whole disdains the very idea that we can be happy and confident with ourselves. Religion disdains pride. Christianity in particular teaches that we are born sick, permanently sick, and commanded to be well. I absolutely, vehemently disagree with this, and I believe it is an evil teaching. This teaching has seem to spread universally, affecting even the non-religious.
I could delve into how I think that teaching merely exists in religion to keep people subservient to faith (because religion wouldn’t exist without its clever lies), but I won’t. Instead, I will talk about my own experience with the subject of pride.
“Arrogant” is the number one thing I have been accused of being throughout my life. Number one by far. It’s what I’ve been called by relatives, friends, and even one or two girlfriends. And every single time I’ve been accused of this, I deny it, because I know that it’s not true. How can I know it’s not true? Isn’t it arrogant to merely be so convinced that I’m right and everyone else is wrong, thus innately proving that I am arrogant?
Well, here’s the thing…
For one, I think it’s incredibly stupid to call someone arrogant who has made more than one attempt to kill themselves from severe depression. Depression that is derived from not feeling valuable, mixed with the knowledge that life itself is meaningless. How arrogant can one be if they value their own existence so minutely that they’ve tried to end it multiple times?
Secondly, it seems obvious to me that everyone who has accused me of being arrogant has never met an actual arrogant person. They’ve never heard of Donald Trump (someone who frequently boasts and claims to be superior to others) either. A bit of knowledge I will impart on these ignorant people is this: Arrogant people are never afraid to admit their arrogance. That’s part of the definition of being arrogant!
Not once, in all my life, have I thought to myself, or said out loud, that I am right and everyone else is wrong simply because I think it. I’ve never used, in any way, the argument of “I am me.” I’ve never thought an idea or a creation was great because it came from me. Not once have I ever believed anything about me, nor anything that came from me, is flawless.
I will admit something quite bold, though.
Everyone, except one person, who has called me arrogant, was already a person I thought to be of less than average intelligence. The only person who has called me arrogant, who I didn’t already think was more stupid than smart, was my first girlfriend Lisa (who was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known), and she only called me arrogant because I insulted one of the guys she was cheating on me with. Which brings me to my next observation…
People, and I don’t just mean those who I know or know of, but people everywhere in general, ONLY ever call someone arrogant when that person confidently said something they don’t agree with. Am I the only one who has ever noticed this? If I were an actual arrogant narcissist, but literally every single thing I said was something you agreed with, your mind would never go as far as to think, “What an arrogant person.” Instead, you would think, “Damn, that guy is always right on point! How admirable!”
It seems the words ‘proud’ and ‘arrogant’ and ‘narcissist’ are applied to people who offend us. Not only that, but also people who make us feel insecure in ourselves.
The main point I would like to drive home with this article, though, is that pride (and all its variants) is not a sin in the first place. It’s not always vanity. You can be an outright narcissist and still put others before yourself. There certainly is a bad kind of pride, and that is when it’s derived from self-obsession without consideration for others. You don’t have to be opinionated or charismatic for that to apply to you. But it’s not wrong in the slightest to be proud if you don’t serve yourself. In fact, I would say that those who put others first are the only ones who deserve pride and SHOULD be proud.
It’s all about who and what you serve. Yourself, or others. That’s putting it simply.
I do not think highly of my abilities, my appearance, or my potential. But there is one thing in which I do think highly (very highly) of myself, and that is my inclination to serve others and to learn truth. Serving others and learning truth have been my obsession for as far back as my memory goes. I’ll give a few examples.
From late 2011 through mid-2012, I lost almost everything I had (including my apartment and my job) to help two friends lose their addiction to heroin. I ended up having to live with my brother because I had lost nearly everything I had to support them. In hindsight, yes I know how naive I was. I will soon post an article explaining that entire story.
Speaking of my brother, during the days I was a welder, I made him the offer of paying for his move-in fees and first month of rent, because he lost his apartment. This was obviously some time after I had lived with him. I did not make the offer because I felt I owed him (though that wouldn’t have been bad).
When I was with my ex who was 16 years older than me, she was drowning in debt from her previous relationship, and I was happy to pay all the rent and buy most of the groceries when I was with her. Sure, I wasn’t so thrilled to do all that for her when she disrespected me because of my age, flirted with other guys, etc., etc. When all was well, though, I was happy to support her, even though it’s a societal custom for couples to split expenses. I did not hold her circumstance against her merely because the circumstance was there.
I could list many more things, but I won’t. In fact, I feel bad listing those things because it does feel wrong to boast about one’s good deeds. I believe good deeds should be done, and not bragged about, because that would defeat the purpose of the deed. I made an exception in this article, though, because frankly I’m sick of so many people accusing me of being too proud, as if I’ve committed a crime, and as if I have no grounds to be proud. I feel if I had simply stated, “I’ve done a lot of good things,” nobody would really get it.
But do you know what those three examples have in common? Not one of those people who I helped ever thanked me for my help. And I still don’t regret having done them.
THAT is what little pride I have comes from. I don’t do anything for recognition or gratitude. What I do for others is simply because I want to. If anyone wants to think otherwise, I can’t change their mind, and they will believe only what they want to, but the facts are against them.
Another thing I take pride in is my desire to learn truth. No matter the situation, I want the truth. I don’t believe in lies, or sugarcoating, or placeholders. I want truth, always. When I lost my religious faith and became an atheist, that was the first time I fell into deep depression. Still, to this day, I think it would be nice if there was an all-powerful being who had a purpose for me and protected me and held all the answers for me. I don’t fool myself into believing that that is true, though, as much as I would like it to be. So, yes, even though it has depressed me knowing there is no god, I take pride in allowing myself to accept this fact.
I do not think I am the greatest at anything I take pride in. In fact, there’s nothing I can do, and there’s nothing about who I am, that someone I’ve known hasn’t surpassed me in. Even when it comes to philosophical understanding, I’ve known people who have better insight than I do. But at least I can also take pride in the fact that I understand that. There are people who are better than me in different areas. There are people I’ve known who I think are better people overall, too. I understand that, and I take pride in the fact I understand that.
Pride isn’t a sin. Pride is necessary to do the right thing. It’s the most important component to having a moral code, and to actually improving one’s self. If you think of yourself as dirt, you’re going to treat yourself like dirt, and so therefore it’s equally as wrong to loathe yourself as it is to have an over-inflated opinion of yourself. But when you do what’s right, and when you abstain from doing what’s wrong, that earns a person pride.
Pride is like water. It is good, and it is necessary, but applied in the wrong way, or applied excessively, can be harmful. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong completely.
PS: I was finally thanked, recently, by one of the heroin-addicted friends I tried to help.
I was going to finish this article talking about the person who has accused me of being arrogant the most, which is my older sister. I was going to elaborate on how she has no legitimate grounds to accuse me of arrogance in a bad way, especially considering how despicable of a person she is. But I’m going to save that for a future article. It’ll probably be soon. I’m going to discuss how deranged many of my relatives are in one article, rather than making a whole series about despicable people I’ve known like I had discussed here. I had realized that all but one of the people I was going to discuss were relatives, so I just decided to lump them all into one article. Coming soon.