The limits to national pride
Pride is one of those very tricky human concepts that really is a two edged sword.
Limits on pride
On the one end, it’s very easy to see the positive elements of pride. If you are a person who is truly proud of who you are, chances are quite good that you will do well in life.
I’m not talking about somebody who picks fights or somebody who looks down on other people. I’m not talking about somebody who insults people because they’re different. I’m not talking about that kind of pride. Real pride involves taking ownership of everything that you do. Every word, thought, action must live up to your highest values. That’s how proud you are because you understand that everything that you do reflects your personal standards.
Since you have taken full ownership of those standards, you insist on the highest quality. For example, if you are a truly proud person, you probably would not lie. You probably would keep your word. You probably would show up to work 15 minutes ahead of time. You probably would be the first person to show up at work and the last person to leave. You probably would put in a tremendous amount of time, effort and attention to detail as far as your work, relationships and your schooling is concerned.
Why? Well, to do otherwise means you are low quality person. To do otherwise means you are slacking, you believe in good enough, you believe in going along just to get along and that kind of thing. In other words, you become mediocre.
Proud people actually want to be exceptional. Proud people actually want to be respected because they are so far superior. That is the basis of their pride and this means that they are better workers, better lovers, better friends, more loyal and they are more significant. In other words, in a group of people, a truly authentically proud person with a tremendous amount of integrity will be sorely missed because everybody else is trying to get along and you end up in a downward spiral.
As more and more people compromise on quality, the least common denominator gets lower and lower and everybody suffers. You have to understand that in any society, it is the proud people that make that society worth living in. It’s the proud people who make sure that the trash gets taken out. It’s the proud people that make sure that public school children get properly educated and they make sure that the taxes are paid and on and on.
When people lose pride, the society goes to hell in a hand basket. I know you’ve heard that saying before. It’ a cliché, but it’s also absolutely true. National pride is crucial, but there are limits to it. Right now, we live in a post modern age where traditional concepts of nationhood are under attack. The idea that’s very current right now is that we really should not have any pride because we’re just products of our environment.
We’d rather focus on changing the system because the system will take care of us. Again, the jury is still out in this kind of thinking, but the argument against this is that focusing on pride and character building has paid of tremendously in the past.
If you need proof of this, look at Japan and South Korea. These are countries that plays a high premium on personal honor which is really another version of pride. It’s not uncommon for government officials in Japan to commit suicide because they got embarrassed. They let down the team. They can’t live with themselves so they’d rather kill themselves.
I know that’s kind of extreme, but it really highlights the impact of national pride and its interaction with personal self ownership. Make no mistake about it. There is a place where national pride is just influx nowadays.