I will resist the notion of looking up what psychologists say pride represents in favor of just thinking about it. Indeed, let me fall back on the Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary to concoct a definition of pride. It is a noun, which means it is something of itself. It is not an adjective or verb or adverb or, God forbid, preposition. My wife can't get the existing prepositions right without adding another to her list of confusions.
Prideful is an adjective. But pride itself does not automatically attach to a human being unless something happens, unless something is achieved. The Bible condemns pride as being a precursor to a fall, like in one of those self-involved people who lord it over lessers and end up eating crow. Kind of like a rooster might preen its feathers before being beheaded and served for dinner. Or put into the arena to have its eyeballs pecked out.
Why am I thinking about this Jamie Dimon character who heads J.P. Morgan Bank right now? This arrogant dude just lost U.S. $2 billion of his shareholder's money. What is the adjective for hubris. Hubritic?
- Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary: "Pride is a feeling of gratification associated with an accomplishment of self or others."
The two key attributes of pride: gratification and accomplishment.
I remember as a kid finding great joy in unraveling a baseball or golf ball to see what it was made of. You'd cut through the shell, leather or rubber, and get to a pile of string. The string in the golf ball in those days was rubberized, really fun to snap at an irritating little sister because it was long, but not firm enough to sting much. The string around a baseball was regular string, thin and strong, good for kites, and would go from Denver to Puerto Rico, where the ball was likely made. In other words, there was a lot of string. And in the center of both would be this little rubber ball, really cool and bouncy, and perhaps the precursor to those balls you can buy at the toy store today that bounce to the moon if you drop them hard enough.
Now pride is not the rubber ball in the middle. The rubber ball is self-esteem. Pride is the string we wrap around esteem as we go from incident to incident achieving things. Get an "A" on the midterm. Add a piece of string. Get a "D" and rip a piece of string off the ball and toss it into the weeds. Get a sizable amount of string and we get to something called confidence. Someone hacks at our ball with an axe, we lose that confidence.
So pride is important because it accumulates. And the odd thing is, we can add to our string based on what Manny Pacquiao does, or Miss Philippines, or Jessica Sanchez on American Idol. And the good thing about this kind of "associative pride" is that we don't lose any string if Manny gets clubbed by some Mexican boxer named Morales. He just had a bad day. But also, the associative string is not very long, not so very strong. It makes us happy, but not confident in ourselves.
Now if we ourselves were to club a Mexican boxer named Morales, our pride would be enormous. That would be a personal achievement and build our confidence immeasurably. That would be why Jessica Sanchez cries when she puts her entire being into a killer note and nails it. We all should have that opportunity in life. To lay everything we have on the line and hit a killer note.
Screw the 15 minutes of fame. Let's just all have a moment when we reveal every thing we are to the world, and come out a winner. To ourselves.
That is pride.
Now the kind of pride the Bible refers to as bad is when you have all string and no rubber ball in the middle, or a rubber ball the size of a pea surrounded by a lot of ratty yarn. I prefer the word "hubris" to pride in that instance. It is patchwork pride aimed at proving oneself worthwhile.
Natural pride is quieter, something you don't have to show to others all the time. Because it is personal.
That's where we get to the Philippines.
I know Filipinos have a lot of pride because they keep telling me so. Pinoy pride. It can be seen every time Manny Pacquiao fights or the President meets with U.S. President Obama and stands equal in that space in that time. I'm guessing Jessica Sanchez is assured of winning American Idol because: (1) she is spectacularly talented, and (2) about 300,000 prideful U.S. Filipinos will be texting votes for two hours after her performances.
But I don't know how deep the ball of string called Pinoy pride runs or why so much of it seems to be so loud.
Pride = gratification from accomplishment.
If your nation is routinely the last horse finishing the race, where do you find your pride?
When your country does not seem to prize personal achievement, but rather rewards acquaintanceship or even cheating, where do you find your pride? I suppose attached to what SOMEONE ELSE can do, or do for you. Or what you can get away with.
I repeat. What someone else does . . . or does for you. Or what you can get away with.
It seems to me the missing dynamic, or underdeveloped dynamic, in the Philippines is the pride of personal accomplishment. It is not nurtured here. It is not taught in the schools, where "obey" takes precedence over "innovate and achieve". It is not instilled in the workplace, where opportunity for the highly capable is blocked by some twit's uncle. It is not injected into everyday conversation where the main interpersonal dynamic is to criticize, insult and blame rather than praise, be courteous and raise up others.
I'd personally like to see emerging in the Philippines a quieter kind of pride producing a quieter kind of leader. One who does not have to boast about how good he is, but merely energizes himself and the nation by getting good things done. And sets an example in his determined approach to things.
I'd like to see that in the workplace, country-wide. Capability being the reason people get ahead. Not friendship or favor.
I'd like to see it taught in the schools. The VALUES of aspiration, good-sportsmanship in competition, and achievement.
The ball of string here is too thin, made of weak associative threads instead of strong twine arising from determined personal accomplishment.
The government's job ought to be to create more opportunities for individual Filipinos to achieve and feel good about how they are growing. Beyond that, to see opportunity on the horizon. Not achieve in the sense of obey and follow rote instruction to get a good grade, the grade being the reason for the pride. But to innovate, be responsible, to find personal gratification in what one does for oneself, and for others.
I love the term "to aspire". It is a fresh idea, clean and powerful. To me, aspiration is the process of developing oneself and finding pride in the way we achieve something meaningful.
That's why I speak frequently of a fair employment law that ends patronization as the basis for hiring and replaces it with capability. To generate pride, not just profit. And why I argue for a revamping of school curricula and the method of teaching to put innovation, fair play and achievement front and center. Then real pride will grow in our young people and the partnership of confidence and determination will drive the nation forward. With a base of confidence and ambition to leverage, the rest of the things kids learn in school will mean more.
The Philippines today seems to be a nation that does not comprehend the "accomplishment" part of pride.
So the floppy ball of Pinoy string does not always fly straight and true, or for distance.
So I ask again: If your nation is routinely the last horse finishing the race, where do you find your pride?
Well, I have a better answer than latching onto the accomplishments of others or cheating. Or making excuses or casting blames.
It's found in loyalty to the good people and resource-rich homeland, in the vast opportunities ahead, in the determination to come from behind, in the recognition that it is easy to gloat and hard, but intensely rewarding, to truck through a struggle.
For sure, I am proud to live in the Philippines.