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The Pros and Cons of Pride

What is pride? A feeling of self-respect and personal worth, or Unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem (personified as one of the deadly sins)?

Can we be proud about who we are without damning ourselves to an eternity of hell-fire and gnashing of teeth? Can we claim our achievements are greater than someone elseís just because they have brought about greater material wealth and progress? Is it better, as the Devil asks vis-a-vis John Milton, to serve in heaven or reign in hell?

My sister says: "Everyone perceives things differently according to their life experiences, education, religious beliefs and pride which should be uplifting instead of causing annihilation."

Annihilation = Total destruction or obliteration. Is such a thing possible? What kind of "pride" would lead to annihilation? Was Milton an idiot for thinking that "the Devilís only sin was pride"?

In my life experience I have discovered that pride and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee. In my education I have been taught that without self-esteem and a feeling of personal worth success is impossible. In religious instruction I have been warned against the dangers of pride because it is rebellion against God. Personally, I believe in being humble.

So whatís the deal? Is pride good or bad?

As my father-in-law constantly reminds me: Moderation is the key. If that is true then we must learn to walk the middle-path between pride and shame - like a tightrope walker. As individuals we require a feeling of self-respect and personal worth to be whole and sane; as Americanís we are allowed to be proud of our national accomplishments, which are many, and our contributions to world society (such as the idea of personal liberty); but as religionists, of whatever stripe, we must learn to feel shame (after all, we have all fallen short of the glory of God, and it is only through divine "Grace" that we shall receive any "blessings" at all).

Personally, I do not believe that annihilation is possible. We are made up of atoms which cannot be destroyed... matter changes into energy, and energy changes back into matter etc., as human beings we may die (Ha, we WILL die!), but that death only represents some kind of transformation that we do not really understand. Even if we kill off the entire human race the planet will keep spinning on its orbit around the sun, and the Universe will produce more intelligent life forms. It is sheer hubris (overbearing pride or presumption) to think that anything we humans do or donít do has any real significance in the vast forever of eternity.

Voila! There is the "evil" kind of pride: to think that our life experiences, education, religious beliefs, etc. have any importance at all! That they are more valid than anyone elseís - that God has chosen us! That we are right and someone else is wrong. That we are "saints" and others are "sinners". What sheer hubris to think the world turns on us and our silly games.

Pride and shame - who needs them? Nations and religions use these ideas to manipulate people. If you donít feel pride or shame you cannot be manipulated. Free your mind from all those things that make you inhuman, such as the idea that an Arab and a Jew are different. Or, the idea that the United States has the God-given right to lord it over all those little Third World countries. Jeez man, North Korea is not much different from Kentucky or West Virginia... we are all just human beings, and we all want the same things. Why canít we have them?

After we are dead (and that time will come) no one will remember us, our favorite color, what kind of food we liked, all the things that made us happy or sad - we will enter the blackness of eternity naked and alone. And, we wonít be the only ones, because every shithead on this planet must pass through deathís door... they might remember Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tsetung, but only as metaphors and not real people... Life is for the living, and it is very brief, so enjoy it while you can.

Remember this: God donít play favorites. The rain falls on the good and bad alike, and when the sun shines it shines on everybody....

Open your eyes!

Copyright © 2003 Mystic Knights of the Black Sun