There is a dark side to pride. Even pride in our child. Every child wants their parents to be proud, but why?
Pride is tricky. Perhaps pride in the good sense is a love or happiness for someone beloved to us.
When a child behaves badly in the presence of others, a parent feels shame. That arises from the ego because we think of the child as an extension of our self—a reflection of the values we impart to our child, and its negative judgment in this instance. Isn’t that a flipped peril of pride? When we are proud of their accomplishments, are we also proud of ourselves in that sense?
Should we take pride in our work? It is a common ideal to give all credit to God, but there is a saying attributed to St Augustine, something like:
With God, we can; without us, God won’t.
And so indeed there is a sense in which we bear responsibility for all that we do, including opening ourselves to God. Should we be proud of that? I suppose so, in a careful sense. If we believe we have the freedom to choose, and we choose righteously. But I think that too is ripe with danger.
I do believe that individuals have freedom, but I also believe it is irresolvably mysterious for each. We are products of our past back to birth, and even beyond birth by the gently shaping hands of evolution. Just as no two individuals have the same DNA, no two individuals share the same life experiences that shape their emotional responses and states.
In the same person, childhood freedoms differ from adult freedoms. And surely we would not ascribe the same freedom to a victim of mental disease as we would to one less afflicted.
Is this question of pride a question of balance? Of moderation? As long as the ego remains “properly sized” in relation to the soul, perhaps the ego cannot help but feel some pride. The ego is our sensor that we are an independent agent in creation. Is pride its form of self-love? Is self-love not good? I think that self-love is good. I think that loving another is limited to an extent that self-love is limited, so self-love cannot be bad.
I like to think of ego as a child that needs the loving embrace of its soul. It’s OK to be proud of ourselves and proud of our children when that pride is an expression in the voice of the ego submissive to its soul. As if, in embrace, the soul whispers to its ego, “Thank you ego for making that happen.”
With soul, the ego can; without ego, the soul won’t.
Yes, pride might be as far as ego can go on its own. And it seems that should be OK. It is one of the countless forms of love. And as long as love is situated in the realm of mystery, it is authentic.
I think a mysterious realm of paternal pride is spoken of in this song:
Neil D. 2020-06-24