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This is the first of what is intended to be a collection of essays revolving around the Seven Deadly Sins. It is not however a religious consideration of each of these, merely a general exploration of the Sins as interconnected themes. Like "Intolerance" it was originally submitted in response to a college assignment.
To describe oneself can be the hardest operation in writing. To depict one's thoughts, feelings, rationales through writing is often done; but to express one's inner being, to profile oneself, is far more complex a procedure. Very often, such information is most accurate and profound when gleaned from the author's writings. If you wish to analyse me, my friends, you are most welcome.
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (4)
Intolerance (Essays) This is an essay about intolerance, prejudice, and other mad things which should not exist in society but imevitably do. This is because of human nature. While I am a fiction writer usually, this es... [1,525 words]
On Art (I) - The True Vs. The Artificial Artist (Essays) This is the first of a collection in the making on my views about art. Although this is the first, introductory essay, it was actually written second (shrug!). Hopefully a third, art Vs. Science, sh... [1,373 words]
On Art (II) - The Response Of The True And Artificial Artists To Inspiration (Essays) The second of my essays on art. Hopefully On Art (III) - Art Vs. Science will be up soon. [1,058 words]
The Unbinding Of Loki (Short Stories) This is a story based loosely upon Norse mythology, in which I have a deep interest. It revolves around a sort of imagined "sequel" to the story of the binding of Loki, the mischievous half-brother o... [1,258 words]
Pride: a deadly sin. One of seven, the others being gluttony, avarice, lust, wrath, envy and sloth, though not in that order. Pride can take many forms, but is it in each form sinful? Pride in one’s country, relatives, friends; is this wrong, something that will eventually, when justice comes to the world, be punished? Or is it merely pride is oneself, which we call arrogance, or self-confidence, that is deplored by the holy and righteous?
As human beings we are inevitably proud. Or ourselves, naturally, for it is pride which raises our self-esteem and keeps it there, and prevents us from falling to the depths of hopeless despair. The self-serving bias is well-documented in psychological circles; to increase our self-esteem, we take credit for our achievements, and claim a personal reason for them; to protect our self-esteem we blame circumstances for out failures. What is this but the dreadful wrong of pride? And yet, is serves a useful purpose; and spares the time and effort of many a psychotherapist.
Human pride is also a vital facet of our racial existence. Although we may bicker and complain among ourselves, and despite our many weird and vile prejudices against one another there is a certain sense of universal pleasure in the achievements of the race as a whole. This is regardless, of course, of the fact that such achievements are the domain of a select few individuals and groups; pride in humanity as a species, in the great leaps and bounds we have made, is inevitable and seemingly innate. This makes sense; why should we spend our lives despairing of the tragic evils and weaknesses of the human race when we can glory in its wonders and strengths? However misplaced, pride in the species does a great deal for the psychological comfort and security of the world’s sentient populace.
Humanity is after all the master race; we are the builders, we are the scholars, we are the committers of all the deadly sins. Take a look at the list above; who can say that they have not committed all or most of these travesties? And are the people we laud and revere most not those who spend as much of their time committing these sins as they do performing whichever activity we pretend to love them for - Byron, Shelley, Joyce and many thousands of other?
What is this but pride, again, in a different form - not in the medical or technological sense, but in terms of entertainment, of art. Pride, it would not be too much of an exaggeration to say, makes the world go round. It gives us something to hope for and believe in. Out lives, after all, are often fraught with difficulty; problems, hassles, conflict, grief, pressure. And regularly people inflict all these negative circumstances in themselves - why? Pride. The unwillingness to admit to failure. Why do the chief protagonists of popular action films keep chasing the criminal even though they are exhausted, injured, bewildered and increasingly inadequate? It is because of courage, determination to see justice done? Of course not; again, it is due to pride. And thus we are taught, by the media, by books and television and films and plays, that this pride which keeps people going in the most ridiculous of circumstances, is a good thing. And people emulate it. Children are taught by their parents the importance of pride; the man who refuses to speak to his wife because he will not admit to being wrong, and thus causes rifts and upsets in the family, is providing his young with more than one highly suspect lesson. This child will perhaps see her father’s pride as detrimental and foolish; but when she finds herself in a similar situation, she will repeat his actions as surely as the three-times-table.
Thus pride can be a matter of individuality of collectivism; it can be species-wide or deeply personal, active or passive, dramatic or quiet, which is usually considered the more acceptable. Someone who is proud of themselves and says nothing about it is treated with respect and though of highly for their reserve; as soon as this sense of self-worth manifests itself in conversation they are a braggart and a fool. Such is the paradoxical whim of human nature. But even this “hidden” or silent pride is dangerous. Consider the circumstances, say, of a student who inflicts upon himself an enormous volume of work, with the ultimate desire to achieve, and achieve highly. This is ambition; this is approved of. It is also pride, and this pride redoubles and circles and feeds upon itself until the student almost kills himself for fear of failure. His pride has reached such a degree with each new success that making a mistake terrifies him; he convinces himself, rightly or wrongly, that despite his obvious desire to apply himself, that once he has reached a pedestal, the first small mistake will tumble him from it into a burning sea of shame. “We thought you were clever!” his friends will say. “What happened? Perhaps we were wrong.” Whether this will actually happen depends very much on the circumstances; but the young man will assuredly torture himself endlessly with the possibility, which will probably contribute in the end to his inevitable failure, minor or major. Pride comes before a fall. But more than this; it often instigates the fall, as we strive to secure ourselves against it; for the mind revolves in circles, presenting simulation after terrifying simulation to the over-burdened brain, and no once can continue to achieve under such difficult circumstances.
Pride is painted in a rather negative light by all this. Surely it has a function - what of the “self-serving bias” discussed above? If pride can help us maintain a high level of self-esteem, then what, you may rightly ask, is wrong with it? Perhaps, for some people, nothing. But consider the case of the beleaguered student; when his fall comes, his self-esteem will plummet far lower than it was before pride overtook him. Then again, you may insist, to use your example, without pride the student would have no ambition, and would not achieve much anyway; surely therefore pride has the function of making us work towards goals and a better lifestyle? Pride equals ambition; ambition is good, therefore, pride is good! A tentative avenue of though at best. Take the Quaker who gives up his luxury to help others in dire circumstances. He has ambition: to give aid, to make people happier and more comfortable; to be altruistic. Another of his ambitions would be to avoid sin. Which includes, of course, pride. Pride and an ideal, holy, pure state of being are never synonymous. We are firmly instructed by various religious doctrines to avoid pride; even outside of religion, pride is actively frowned upon in favour of altruism.
It would perhaps not be unreasonable to attempt to categorise pride. We have several potential categories: constructive pride, like that which the self-serving bias suggests. Destructive pride, such as that of the argumentative father. Quiet, or inner pride. External, arrogant pride. Possibly the “type” of pride which a person experiences depends largely upon their individual personality - a person who is usually arrogant normally does not possess a capacity for inner pride, unless something occurs that convinces them to employ it. Humiliation, for example. Which provides us with another weapon with which to damn pride: the fact that it almost inevitably leads to humiliation sooner or later. What is the harm, on the other hand, of being pleased with oneself; say, if we achieve something particularly impressive and unexpected? Nothing except that the reactions of other may not be so sweet as the achievement itself. For pride can often be found in the company of envy; of the person ho is proud of his achievement, for example. Or, for someone who is “naturally” proud, envy of another who has something which the proud person feels they should have, simply because they are so much better than anything else. If they cannot achieve the goal of gaining this something which another person has, the proud individual will likely become angry and aggressive, leading to conflict. Pride may lead us to covet money or sex because we feel we deserve it. Pride may lead us to overindulgence and laziness because we are so excellent and important a person that we are allowed to behaving such an antisocial manner.
The pattern? I will repeat it again: pride. Envy, wrath, avarice, lust, gluttony, sloth. The seven deadly, and interconnected sins. Each contributing to one another, no wonder they are lethal. Pride, forming a single piece of a large, complex, and terrible puzzle. Sin interweaves. It compounds itself. And in the end, it is all that is left.
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"I thought that this was a very well written essay. It had a lot of support . The author got his point accorss and there were many good points." -- Kelly Watt, Normal, Illinois , United States.
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© 2000 Erik
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