Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Crutches Are Better Than Yours

It always seems to me that pride is a very quaint phenomenon. It is not essential to survival by any stretch, yet people would lie, make sacrifices, or even commit crimes to hold on to it.

I am often baffled at the smug satisfaction many people derive from having something deemed superior to one possessed by someone else, or at the discomfiture they feel when whatever they can claim does not match up with what the other person has. Pride is mean when it trumphs and quite bitchy when it fails; odd that people should embrace such a tyrant.

The source of pride is another matter for the curious mind to contemplate. It typically starts with personal achievements, and if no claim can be justified in that regard then most people will resort to “pride by association," at which point pride starts to take some quite bizarre twists.

It is common enough to hear people rave about a child, a relative, or a friend. If they feel they are entitled to basking in the glory of someone they are associated with, no big deal. However I really got a kick out of the following one. My cousin is married to a woman from a nearby town, which traditionally has sort of a rivalry with his own, and boy oh boy how proud she is of the place she came from. Last year I visited her city the first time ever, and while we were on a kitschy tourist boat chugging up the picturesque river, she came to me at the bow, where a gaudy wooden dragon head placidly showed off its tackiness, to remark that there was no way their river could be as beautiful as her river.

During my travel last year I also found myself struggling to take in another perverted twist of pride while in a capital city, where one could not turn on the TV or open a newspaper without being screamed in the face that the citizens there took a humongous pride in their burg. Problem was, for the sake of my life I could not figure out any justification for that outsized chunk of pride. The only possibility that occurred to my mind was that, since pride was so hot there, it was probably their pride that they were proud of.

In any case, pride in my opinion is as necessary to an individual as the vermiform appendix. Still most people are so misguided that they think pride is needed to assert their significance, so they cling to it like a cripple hanging on to his crutches. When a bunch of cripples eye each other and think “my crutches are better than yours", then one has to admit it is truly pathetic.

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