Augustine defines pride as " the love of one's own excellence" while Aristotle on the other hand marks a clear distinction between pride and hubris. Pride can be something positive in the elevation of one's greatness of soul, magnanimity or otherwise known as one of the seven deadly sins. Hubris as defined by Aristotle is something which its cause is this ' by illtreating others men make their superiority greater'.
I'm interested in this pride issue because there was an incident which happened on New Year's eve and it made me intrigued, well a little.My friend's little boy had accidentally spilt water on me and even as I was alright about the whole thing, my friend's 5 year old scowled darkly and refused to apologize when his mum told him to. For the entire hour I watched the boy struggle in such anguished agony as he defiantly raised his chin to protest to apologizing for something he did not deserve since it was an accident. We were at Swensen's so the oddest thing came when he inflicted self punishment by refusing to enjoy his icecream because he 'had been a bad boy'.
It was the self inflicted punishment, and the self inflicted "trial" that made him feel guilty and undeserving of the ice cream. His mummy did add to the guilt trips but had he wanted, he could have had his ice cream. So I realized the boy became remarkably angrier and angrier to the point he turned to me and even cast me a resentful stare.
" I cannot say sorry! It's too hard!"
And hie eyes welled up with tears. I felt so sorry for him, but my friend and her hubby felt this was nothing to do with me. Their son had a battle to fight, his own pride and his own psychology of right and wrong. Interestingly my friend is a psychologist and I couldn't help but quip that she basically gave birth to a son to fill her life with challenge. He is a really smart and bright eyed child, mind you.
After an hour of cajoling from his dad, or was it 45 min, he saw his ice cream melt to a little puddle of unappetizing mess but he was still determined on having it. He tried to apologize but everytime he stared at me, his resolve seemed to have weaken and he continued his agonized march. Until he finally made up his mind and uttered "Sorry".
Being on my chirpy disposition I eagerly replied "I forgive u!"
All hell broke loose when I said that.
He went into rancourous sobs and screamed that I was not suppose to "forgive" him., I realized he felt embarassed and disgusted not really at me, nor himself but at the idea of "forgiveness".
Most of us are not very different from that child. Forgiveness may be uttered but to feel forgiveness sometimes make us drip in shame. Either it makes us feel that we REALLY did do wrong and the discovery is such a death blow to our narcisstic ego or forgiveness is really a shot towards our pride. How interesting then to say hubris is a concept where you illtreat others to make yourself feel more superior. I asked the boy's father if pride was borne before the child really understands things, or was pride an aftermath when the child had started his consolidation of experiences in life. My friends said one possibility could be that the child had done well and been commended greatly in growing up that he became more confident. NOt arrogant but just confident such that when this intelligence started to sink into him, it was tough when he made mistakes. Even indirect mistakes. He could not take a beating for having done something he felt was not fully his fault and yet the sense of justice in him prohibted him from enjoyment because he felt intrinsically he had done something to aggravate the accident.
I've discovered that pride is still upheld even when we ask for forgiveness. By uttering the words can hardly amount to anything, because when someone tells u they forgive u and u never intended to feel "forgiven" because u never felt u were wrong but coerced into saying it or just say it emotionlessly, it can only create more indignation. I've found that it isn't exactly admitting that we are lousy or less when we say sorry. It actually makes us bigger. Hard to believe me?
When u can truly ask for forgiveness and u can truly forgive others, it means u can truly attain happiness. Because when we don't forgive people when they do us wrong, it is akin to swalloing poison and hoping the other party who's done us wrong becomes sick. How can we hope that? Too many times the others do not even recollect having done wrong because it can take us forever to decide to forgive. And well when we ask for forgiveness and the other party refuses to forgive, let's not hold it against them. Because we've already been spared just by the "want" of letting go. It's the other party who is keeping himself/herself tortured. Such a simple concept, such difficulty. Don't people like to package words and give themselves big reasons for their lack of forgiving?
"Can't do it. The person did me too much wrong. Can't forget it too."
I suppose it is too much to do both and God never said we needed to forget either. The whole concept indeed becomes much of a challenge when we lump them together. In exasperation people will ignore this whole idea. And then you lose. (yes indeed my pastor did say this and it does sink within me) I admit that I find it tough forgiving people more so than asking for forgiveness. There is this streak in me that finds myself easy to admit my faults but to ask me to tell another person that I did not hold anything towards them is so surprisingly difficult.
I know why now. Because it means I have to forgive my own stupidity of allowing the other party to do wrong. You see the whole concept is even more warped when I utter it. But my problem was really that. I could not believe I was that stupid to have been a prey of anything. You can always say, I could have seen it coming but at the core of it, I could have really felt everything was always under control until it takes you by surprise.
That element of surprise exposes me to pure blindness and stupidity and it becomes clear that my ego is bruised. Pride then is also very much a problem with the forgiver as well as the forgiven.
What happens when you forgave and the other party strikes again?
It was never your problem to begin with. If the other party strikes again, after your anger has diminished and you're calm enough to reason things, look at every factor before thinking the person has never changed from the first situation, or first wrong. Sometimes when we hold grudges or have too good a memory, we may really be too petty to give the other person room for possibilities. Maybe the other person REALLY did do it again but the attitude was not like the first time. If however we are talking along the lines of drug abuse and the other party has succumbed to it then forgiveness is not just the issue here. The other person needs help and forgiveness was probably not big on his/her list since repentence was not really there in the first place. But if the issue was something that affected us directly, and we can be freed from our emotional prison rather than holding on to it, then forgive. If not we end up like my friend's child struggling with self-inflicted punishment and anguish because he could not ask for forgiveness. Being unable to forgive others for my case was thus because I could not forgive myself. It was the anger towards myself I had first weeded out then I found that no more anger = peace. And when u're at peace, there's nothing to hold u back from forgiving anything or anybody!
Children are very direct and honest in their actions. We may not cry, beat outselves or look miserable in situations but at the core of it all, the unhappiness and weight will be there. Unhappiness is self inflicted punishment, how nice, if we detected this and eradicate our peace wrecking issues.
I don't think having pride is entirely a bad thing. We need to have that feeling of confidence or integrity, that "greatness of soul" to bring us through difficulties. But when pride becomes a hindrance, then the appropriate thing is to deal with it before it momentarily raises our vain "superiority" but illtreats others.
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