Pride, substance and vulnerability

Recent events have prompted introspection on pride. Suffice it to say that a friend’s constant habit of putting down others to bolster her sense of self is disparaging, if not downright hurtful. What is pride and why do people defend it so jealously.
I understand that pride acts as a cement to a person’s being in the sense that, despite being just another kind of animal but we’re blessed or burdened by our consciousness (I’m not even getting into what’s consciousness philosophically). Frankly I don’t think anyone will be motivated rationally to pursue something for the greater good of mankind. Pride possibly imparts the greatest momentum for human pursuit. By pride I also mean things like esteem. Like selfishness, a moderate amount would somehow lead to some greater good being served while serving our own interests.

But I saw many instances where excessive pride acts as an obstruction towards maximizing human activity. Firstly people are afraid to question things that they take pride in because it forms the basis of their whole existence and because of that, they become stuck in certain ways, deluding themselves that this is the best way to function when it’s clear to others that change is needed. Even as I type this, it’s an irony in itself. I’ve always regard rationality is our best guide that I constantly reflect on and revise my deepest set of values and attitude to ensure that my philosophical foundation is sound. In my deepest contemplation, I found that human existence is necessarily hollow and that I lost a sense of spirit, that I’m just trudging on to make the best out of an existence that I was compelled to. In a sense, I’ve reached the state of the Nietzsche so-called active nihilism:

“I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism’s] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength!”

But then again, this approach might just be self-defeating. Excessive thinking itself might be an obstruction towards maximizing human activity.
Apart from being stubborn to changes, there’s also an unwillingness to accept alternative ideas. I always believe that it’s better to withhold judgment and listen to all available alternatives, weighing out their pros and cons before coming to the most optimum choice. In interaction with others, often the debate seemed to be staking more on who wins the argument rather than the facts itself.
Also, it seemed that the world, or rather majority of the population seems to be happy to accept prideful talk by faith without subjecting it to further scrutiny as to whether it commensurate with true substance or ability. As much as I aim to prove myself through substance, I found myself increasingly disheartened in the journey while watching the superficial esteem those unsubstantiated. Pardon the language abuse.
When one’s pride is deemed to have been trampled on, I find it particularly disturbing at the reflexivity of people turning onto their defense by attacking the others’ pride. But if one were to pause and reflect, it’s nothing more than an intangible feeling. Is it really worth the fight? What do we gain at the end?
And then there’s another kind of defense mechanism where one wears pride like a suit of armor. They are so afraid of others penetrating into that personal wall that they so painstakingly build up that they intentionally or not alienate others. Wait, I don’t know what’s so bad about that. Possibly because you might be missing out on something dear.

As much as I understood the destructive power of the emotivism of pride, I can’t help but to be affected by it. Blogging it out is probably an ascetic exercise to remind myself to not be swayed by my emotions at the moment.

Ah… I really don’t know how much abuse I can take from this friend although I understand the motivation behind it and she was always there for me whenever I need her and honestly, isn’t that what friendship is about? That you accept their weaknesses and being there for each other for better or worse.

My resolution is therefore, that I swallow my pride since it’s a matter of small consequence and give our friendship a second chance. After all, I always tell others ‘truth will always prevail’. But meanwhile, let me nurse my wound before resuming the abuse. And no, I don’t like SM. Haha

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3 Responses to Pride, substance and vulnerability

  1. Poignant and very well-written piece. I have nothing to add or say apart from how I empathise with the points you’ve highlighted above!

    Though I may have something to add here with regards to the bit on why some people seem to choose to ‘trample on other’s pride’- it probably has a lot to do with relativism, of wanting to look better than the person one stands next to. As opposed to looking up towards the achievement of others and strive to do better (out of pride or out of a pure sense of furthering oneself), these people decide that it is simply easier to belittle others and to, well, look tall beside the ones they belittle. It takes lesser effort to distort reality than to accept it — and sometimes, if one repeats it often enough, distortion becomes reality itself, that one does believe that they are better than others. (The unsavory consequence would be, too, that the belittled would actually fall for it and believe they are as insertnegativadjective as said by the person, and as a consequence, act like that. One thinks, therefore they are.)

    Sometimes the most interesting about humankind is that we cling on to relationships for an awkwardly long period of time even if logically it makes no sense. Fear of change, perhaps? Or that we’re just social beings.

  2. bennythedonkey says:

    Cogito ergo sum… urgh I hate that phrase. It seems to belittle the effort aspect of pursuit. Like I can be Megan Fox if I think hard enough. Haha but I’m just abusing the phrase. I’m sure Descartes meant something else when he said that.

    Loosely, I think the more fundamental message in the you-are-what-you-think statement is that you need to be confident of what you want to be. I recall my management lecturer using that phrase so often that it’s almost like she’s chanting a mantra. I understand the good intention but a lot of people preferred to take a more extreme attitude towards it so much so that it breeds arrogance rather than confidence? It just doesn’t jive with me because I extol effort over belief.

    I’m almost inclined to think that sustaining relationships is a trudgery for you =P But you are right indeed, I seemed to have all the reason in the world to sever contact with said friend. I cling on because there are actions on her part that I regard as something only a true friend will do. As time passed, the dearth of true meaning friends made me very appreciative when I do find one. And I’m always of the opinion that actions speak louder than words albeit words that are not loudly spoken are hurtful too.

    On a side note, it’s almost cognitively possible to interpret the last sentence of your second paragraph as you’re agreeing that ‘the belittled one’ do possess the negative qualities as claimed by ‘the one who belittles’. LOL

  3. 😛 I am neither belittling effort nor laud the glories of mind over matter, but sometimes, the mind is the devil’s lair. And if you think hard enough, you do embody the traits of things you wish to embody – in a sense, a huge lie becomes half-truth because you think it is and you live it out. (Hence, what that was once thought becomes reality only because you act it out as if it’s real, and it becomes real – a whole act of self-fulfilling prophecy.)

    Also, it’s not necessarily mutually exclusive 😛 I’m a big fan of the concept self-fulfilling prophecy because I think if one thinks that they’re not limited to their own boundaries, they can often try and break it, and go further. (Sure, one would wish they can think themselves into Megan Fox, but in reality if you think you’re damn hot, who knows you might be confident enough to do tryouts at the next audition and land yourself a role, HAHA.)

    Sometimes effort comes in after you have a belief that something is possible – otherwise, logically, if you think it is impossible, why even bother exerting effort? I’d like to think that they’re the fuel and fire to each other – once you think it’s possible, you’ll take action. Once the consequences of the action comes in, it verifies/negates the earlier belief, and you do modifications where necessary, and if you think it’s worth doing again, you do. You put in effort, gets feedback, rethink, do/not — repeat ad infinitum.

    No, sustaining relationships is not a drudgery for me 😛 Caveat: only if it’s worth it.

    😛 I’m not saying the belittled possess the negative qualities. I’m merely stating that, in an event should the belittled happen to display such ‘traits’, the reinforcement of insults only serve to make the belittled think that the belittled actually do possess such traits when, in reality, the belittled only happen to make that little ‘error’ (or display that trait) rarely. In a more biological analogy, this is Pavlovian.

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