Pride has several different meanings. But don’t take it from me; ask Mr. Webster and you’ll find three primary definitions under the main entry: “A. inordinate self-esteem: conceit; B. a reasonable or profitable self-respect; and C. delight or elation arising from some act, possession or relationship.” However, put down the dictionary and do a quick search on the “seven deadly sins” and you will find ‘Pride’ is at the top of the list. I think it is safe to say the Pride on the list of seven deadly sins is the one Webster first defined: “inordinate self-esteem.” But I think we may have falsely assumed all three definitions were classified as sinful due to the lack of Pride we find about.
I am by no definition a farmer. I am, though, a worker of the land by hobby. I enjoy clearing filth and brush, mowing and caring for my lawn, landscaping, and planting. On the occasional summer day off, I can spend hours working with the land, and as evening comes on and the fog begins to rise and the dew to settle on the little valley farm I call home, I can feel an overwhelming sense of Pride—that sort of Pride which comes from having accomplished a hard day’s work, a job well done. And when the snow begins to fall and farm work outside has waned, I amble into the kitchen and like to try my hand at preparing a few meals. On the occasion the dinner turns out edible, I once again feel a sense of Pride wafting up with the aroma. And when I learn of the accomplishments of a friend or family member, I again feel that Pride. Pride in the relationship and Pride that I have the opportunity to know such a loved one.
But look around and you won’t find that secondary type of Pride. Sure, “inordinate self-esteem” abounds, but self-respect and a sense of accomplishment are missing. Shoddy craftsmanship on a new automobile or piece of furniture is commonplace. Weeds among an otherwise thriving vegetable garden or shabby appearance in public are the norm. Perhaps I’m too old-fashioned, but can’t we do better than pajamas in Walmart? And nothing will bring about jealousy and envy quicker than news of the achievements of a friend or relation. It’s Pride that is missing. Putting our name and reputation to a job and knowing it was our best work. Stepping out with our best foot forward and striving for excellence to the outermost borders of our ability is Pride. And Pride is patting the backs of our friends who achieve new heights.
Please don’t think me a prude with unreasonably high expectations, but instead realize it takes very little effort to show Pride in how you appear, how you act, and the jobs you perform.
This week, we ask whether Pride is virtue or vice. When meant as a respect of ourselves, our work, and our relationships, it’s a resounding vote for virtue, and one that’s missing far too often in the world around us today.