We all have something to be proud of. Maybe you’re proud of your all-nighter essay which got a first, or your 4-day Duolingo streak. Maybe you’re proud of your little brother for winning a swimming race you helped him train for. What confuses me, however, is pride in things we have no control over. Countless times I’ve heard someone claim they are “proud to be American!” or, “proud to be a Kiwi!” I wonder what gives them such conviction.
On a familiar level, pride is perfectly justified. For example, a mother may be proud her daughter has grown into an intelligent and honourable woman. Not only has this mother passed on her genes to successful progeny, but she has helped cultivate and nurture the result. The latter is similar to the pride a teacher may feel when their student achieves success. Extrapolating further, a football player feels proud when their team wins. It makes sense that pride is either the result of an individual’s accomplishments or their part in a collective achievement.
Pride is, in effect, the opposite of shame. People may be proud members of groups which do good deeds and achieve success. People may be ashamed of knowingly joining a group with unethical conduct. Pride and shame are the results of choices being made and acted upon. Therefore, it is irrational to conflate these with nationality and ethnicity. We have no choice where or to whom we are born. I expect we would all agree there is no shame in being born black. Likewise, there is no shame in being born brown, white, or any shade. It follows there should be no pride in it.
However, there seems to be a sinister double-standard infiltrating our society. To be proud of certain skin colours is accepted and even encouraged. To be proud of other skin colours – namely white – is an atrocity. This is a glaring logical fallacy. It is like judging one’s own proverbial book by a cover they have not chosen.
Rather than misplacing pride in things we have no say in, we should pride ourselves on our decisions and accomplishments. Being proud is a reward. By using it to take credit where no credit is due, we take away the meaning of pride.