A Balance of Pride

How pride can affect us in life and how we need to keep control over it.

What is on my mind a lot this week is the idea of pride and how it influences our lives. In a story I’m reading right now, a main obstacle for the main character is the pride of those around him. It’s a classic tale of the underdog- a boy born into a dirt poor family whose father is beholden to a prominent family of their community. The boy wishes to make something of himself and so determines that he must work hard at school in order to lift his family up from poverty and take care of his father and his disabled little sister. Yet, he is constantly knocked down and belittled by those around him due to his lack of money and family prestige.

But, the boy possesses a strong spirit and will and fights back against these people no matter what they say or do to stop him on his path through life. And he works and works and works until he becomes someone truly powerful, someone deserving of respect and admiration. Yet, people are still around him calling him nothing due to his low birth or declaring that he is simply lucky for attaining the power he has. Yet, he does not allow himself to be affected by their words and never gives up because he knows his true worth: he has a strong pride in himself that they cannot knock down no matter how hard they try.

But his pride is different than theirs; they base their pride on material things: money, family lineage, possessions, influence, etc.. Even more, their pride is self-interested and self-focused. They use it to look down on those around them, viewing them as lesser due to their lack of such things compared to them. Yet, most of them have inherited these things and have never actually worked for them. Constantly throughout this story, I run across characters like this and an analogy comes to mind: these people are passengers on a ship, living in luxury and abundance. They did not build the ship or buy it or even contribute to it. They are not directing it or influencing it in any way, yet they sit there crowing at the top of their lungs about their power and control to the ships that surround them as if they have done all of that themselves.

Meanwhile, the main character has built his ship board by board, nail by nail until it was finally able to withstand the storms that would come. He has contributed pretty much single-handedly to the creation of this ship on which he can protect his family with. Yet because his ship is not laden with gold or embellishments, the previously mentioned character’s view it as worthless. Yet, what those characters do not realize is that their ship has grown so heavy with material things and such that it slowly moves through the water and some even barely sail at all. Their ship is old and stagnant and, when a truly big storm comes, it can be easily destroyed and sunk, the material things that they once boasted about merely helping along with the ship’s destruction.

Meanwhile, the main character’s ship is newly built and fast; it is constantly added to and changed in order to make it as strong as it possibly can be. It has braved storm after storm, gone into waters that those lavish ships would never dare enter, and has emerged all the stronger for it with new additions ready to be used. It has taken a remarkable journey due to the enduring labor of its builder and commander and can now face pretty much anything that it comes across. But what makes him and his ship even more remarkable, is that he does not use it solely for himself and his family. For when he sees other ships at sea, wrecked and near destruction, he saves the people on board. He takes care of them and protects them using his ship, allowing them safe passage through whatever storm or waves have taken them out. Unlike the characters with the lavish ships who merely mock and bolster up themselves when they see such ships or vessels, he seeks to help anyone he comes across who desperately needs it. He is fair and kind, acting as a protector and savior for them until they are once again able to stand up and brave the storms with their newly built ships. He uses his pride to help lift up those who are in similar situations as to what he started out with, rather than looking down at them like the other characters do.

Pride is an important characteristic that every person needs to have; too little pride is a danger to one’s mental, emotional, and even physical health as seen with people who have mental illnesses or low self-esteem. Pride can help us move forward in life, help us climb to higher and higher places. But too much pride is also dangerous to one’s mental, emotional, and even physical health in different ways. It can do the exact opposite of what it once did as people become lazy and slow, content in where they are. They no longer wish to climb higher or improve themselves because they have arrived at where they feel fulfilled and safe.

But, the point of life to me is progression; to endlessly seek to improve oneself again and again and again by facing the storms around us and pushing through in order to emerge, changed, on the other side. We can always do better and be better, though of course we need to know and understand our limits and capabilities. Rest is incredibly important and necessary in life and should never be pushed off for the sake of improvement. To use common analogy, life is not a race but a marathon- if you rush forward, pushing yourself to your limits again and again, you will soon find yourself halfway through the marathon with no energy left to finish what you started. We must be measured in our progression and our pride, not allowing our motivations and desires to take control and obscure our reasoning and intellect to the point of endangering or truly exhausting ourselves. Pride is necessary, but must be used in moderation. That is the key.

In case anyone wishes to know, the story I am currently reading and referencing in this post is a Chinese manhua called ‘Quanzhi Fashi’ or ‘Full-time Mage/Versatile Mage’. It’s really incredibly interesting and fun to read. It has an Anime attached to it with five season which I finished, but the manhua goes on much farther than the show and is absolutely spectacular. I’m just about finished with the manhua with only a few chapters left and plan to move on to the novel itself as that continues the story much farther than where the manhua is at right now.