To quote a contraction (or misquotation?) of a bible verse is not really my style, but I have always disagreed with the generalisation of the meaning that any pride is a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of unwarranted (and maybe warranted) pride is undoubtedly going to get you into a pickle, but you need a little. Just like you need a little fat in your diet.
Pride in what you do, no matter how trivial it may be is important. I’m not going to pile the mess of this world on this one fact but I believe it accounts for a fair whack of the rubbish that goes on around us each and every day. Am I talking crap? Maybe, but isn’t that what this blog is about? My crap ideas and beliefs?
Let’s start with simple grooming. Ok ok, those of you who know me in the flesh, stop laughing. Yes, I let the stubble grow longer than what is acceptable on the pages of GQ and I don’t shop at Calvin Klein but I do try and not look like a slob most of the time. The point I am trying to make is that without a little pride in what we look like, we’d all be wearing baggy grey sweats that smelt like year old moist socks.
Take the guy in pants and a tie walking to work through an upmarket suburb who pees against the garden wall in full view of everyone in rush hour traffic. (Yes, that does happen often here in wonderful Africa) Let’s say he does not have some incontinent illness, he’s not out of his gourd at 7am in the morning and he is not some nutter. Why in gods name would someone who has any pride in himself take a slash against a private persons home in full view of thirty people waiting at the light. Don’t you dare give me some cultural socioeconomic religious witchdoctor reason. Sure, some of us have had to take a leak behind a bush, but usually we try and keep that as a last resort and hidden from view and definitely not aimed at some poor sods prize petunias.
Take the builder, plumber, electrician, who cuts a corner and does not do a job correctly. Yes, we have all had to deal with the repercussions of some twit who saved ten dollars on a cheap part, installed a used one as new or didn’t bother with painting primer on the wall before painting it (yes it does make a difference). Pride in your work. Hah. What a laugh. Maybe there is a lack of skill involved or it was a simple mistake – but most of them and the ones who proudly tell you they have been in business for 20 years. Generalisation I know (if you ever find decent tradesman hang on to them with two hands), but over the years it happens so often that most of the time you can do a better job yourself. Why would anyone who took pride in what they do, do this? And lets face it, getting referrals would mean far more money than saving a few bucks on a single job. Yes, everyone cuts corners every now and again (and you are not proud of it), but usually only when it affects you (and you are forced to, eg. lack of funds to do it properly) and you are willing to suffer the repercussions.
Living in a country with a huge number of people struggling with poverty I am always amazed to drive past a rural shanty town and see, in amongst the dilapidated shacks and squalor, a small neatly groomed dirt patch surrounding a well maintained shack. It stands out like a diamond amongst the filth and I always wonder why its there and why its different from the others. It’s not made of anything more costly than the ones surrounding it – it’s the same rusted tin roof, the same plastic sheeting windows, the same reclaimed wooden door – yet somehow, someone took pride in making it a home. Someone built the walls straight instead of skew, cleared away the refuse instead of letting it pile up, and takes pride in maintaining it. Theres a little patch of maize growing and a washing line strung across two makeshift poles shoved in the ground and maybe a little gate but no fence. If the people living there had no more skills or money than the others, why then is their home such a contrast? Could it be a little pride in who they are and what they have even if it’s nothing by western standards?
Who cares what anyone else thinks of you, it’s what you think of yourself, pride in who you are and what you have accomplished and what you do, no matter how small or trivial in the eyes of the world.
Sometimes a little pride is a good thing.
ps. Yeah yeah, I know. There is more to this, but maybe I’ll do a part two when I’ve mulled over it some more.