Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pride and Arrogance

"Pride goeth before destruction,and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

Who can doubt the wisdom of those words? And at the same time, who pays attention to them?

All of us make statements expressing our belief in opinions that we feel strongly about. All of us also have made statements that are wrong. I don't mean statements that others disagree with. I mean statements that are just plain wrong.

I believe the act of admitting when one is wrong reveals the character and/or integrity of a man (or woman). I have noticed that there are many who simply will never admit to being mistaken. About anything.

It is a matter of pride. Or of arrogance.

Some may see admission of fault as a weakness, even a character flaw. I see it as a measure of strength and confidence.

Pride and arrogance are not bad things unless they are stubbornly adhered to regardless of facts to the contrary. Then, one shows oneself to be simply mule-headed and it devalues one's opinion.

The dictionary defines pride as:

1. A sense of one's own proper dignity or value; self-respect.
2. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement, possession, or association: parental pride.
3. Arrogant or disdainful conduct or treatment; haughtiness.

As you can see, pride is both honorable and dishonorable

The dictionary defines arrogance as:

n : overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors.

It is frustrating to me when people stubbornly refuse to concede a point of contention when it is pointed out to them that there are flaws in their argument. Or even acknowledge that a good point has been made in a debate.

Take the recent discussion about Fred Phelps for example. Phelps is a man who's tactics, everyone agrees, are wrong. Not just mistaken. Wrong. He knows that few people agree with him, and he no doubt knows, despite what he preaches, that even God disagrees with his tactics. And yet, he persists in spreading a message of hate and bigotry everywhere he goes. Why? Because of arrogance.

You can see examples of arrogance everywhere. Ill. Senator Dick Durbin said some very inflammatory things about the American servicemen guarding prisoners at GITMO. Afterwards, in the ensuing firestorm of outrage, he was forced to recant his statements and apologize. But did he? No. He made a statement that he was sorry some people may have been offended, but that he was still correct in his assessment.

Some would say that President Bush is exhibiting the same arrogance in his resolve to push the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. I myself have stated that I back her nomination. Lately, though, in light of additional information, and the sheer preponderance of opposition, I have begun to have some reservations. I am now of the opinion that we need to wait and see how she fares in the Senate Judiciary hearings.

I made statements recently about the ACLU that were seemingly refuted by hard evidence to the contrary, but I stand by my original statements. So I admit to being arrogant in my own right.

Pride is a good thing when exhibited along with integrity, and as a demonstration of confidence.

I once saw Football great Marcus Allen in person walking out of a mall in Kansas City. The thing that impressed me more than anything else about him was his walk. He walked with confidence. With pride. Greatness exuded from the man. I try to imitate that walk. He didn't impart to me an air of arrogance, although I don't know him and I didn't talk to him. He has never struck me as being particuarly arrogant.

My father walked with pride, and he was indeed a proud man. I remember when I was a child, riding with my mother to pick him up from Boeing Aircraft, where he worked most of his life. Boeing is a huge company, with a large work force, and whenever the final whistle blew at the end of the shift, the mass exodus from every building resembled the rush of lemmings to the sea. Yet in spite of the crowds all rushing to be the first out of there, my father could easily be spotted in the crowd. He was the one walking, his head held high, with a purposeful stride. We recognized his walk of pride.

My father was not arrogant at all. He had rather different ways of expressing his feelings about his kids. In fact I didn't know how he felt about me until the end of his life. He never admitted being proud of any of us, but he most definitely was. My brother told me, years after dad died, that dad believed no great thing you accomplished was of any value unless it made you money. Dad considered himself a failure as a provider. I believe it ate at him that his wife had to work to keep our heads above water. I think it injured his pride.

So pride can be both a good thing and a bad thing. And, in spite of what the dictionary says, arrogance has it's good points as well.

I see myself as a man of conviction, and of principles, which many might see as arrogance.

I see it as pride.


The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I really enjoy your writing and your openness. Take pride in it.

Poison Pero said...

Nothing wrong with pride or arrogance.........I admit to having both.

The thing I'm most proud of: I've been with my wife for 15 years (dating and marriage) and have never thought of leaving her......Though I have thought of killing her. LOL!

Along this same line: I'm an excellent father, who will do anything to keep my family unit together and strong.
I am proud of these two things.....But also very arrogant about it.

I have little understanding of those who don't make it work with their wife, or those who walk out on their kids.
Obviously, there are tons of extenuating circumstances which force marriages to fail........But usually it's that the man and woman are too selfish to make it work.
I hope this doesn't hit too close to home for any of your......But I did admit this was a point of arrogance for me.