One of my favorite movies is Pride and Prejudice. For me, it’s one of those movies that I can watch over and over again, each time falling in love with something new. One time that I watch it, I fall in love with the dialog. The next time, I fall in love with the music. The next time, I fall in love with the scenery. And the next, I fall in love with Mr. Darcy. Sigh.
Lately, I’ve pondering one line in the movie: Is pride a fault or a virtue?
Pride is such a big part of our American lives. We are constantly seeking bigger and better things to make ourselves and our families proud. Bigger toys, bigger houses, better cars, more degrees, better titles at work, smarter/prettier/more athletic kids. The list goes on for days.
We are taught that pride is a good thing–that pride is a part (or maybe a product) of having a strong sense of self worth. Being proud means you did something right. Pride, therefore, is seen as a virtue.
I recently read an outsider’s take on pride that, while different than what my culture has taught me, makes a lot of sense to me. The theory went that pride prohibits a person (or family or culture, etc.) from having peace because it represents a constant struggle to one-up everyone else. Pride is seeing yourself and your accomplishments as better than everyone else. Since there will almost always be someone with more money, a better job, or whatever else makes you proud, you’re constantly trying to accomplish more.
As I thought about this, it became very clear to me that pride is not at all a part or product of having a sense of self worth. In fact, having a healthy sense of self worth means seeing the accomplishments and positive aspects of your life, while also recognizing your limitations and faults and understanding how you fit into the rest of life. Self worth isn’t a classification system–it doesn’t mean “I’m better than you or her or them.” It’s simply an understanding– it’s saying “This is who I am, and this is what is good and bad about me.”
One of my goals that I hope to reach before I turn 30 is to be at complete peace. It’s clear now that being prideful won’t help me achieve inner peace.