[The views expressed in this article are the author's and not that of ScoopWhoop]
There are many ways we can show admiration for things that are dear to us - you can support them, cherish them, love them. But when it comes to things that give us a sense of belonging, we usually chose to be 'proud'. No, there's nothing wrong with being proud of where you come from, where you live, what team you follow, which role-model you look up to. But this write up isn't about what's right or wrong. It's just one person's opinion, who's sharing it hoping that others will hear him out.
At risk of sounding like the 'Unpopular Opinion Puffin' meme, let me just say this - I think our society has a problem, and it needs to be addressed. We're too proud as a people, and that's something that's keeping us stagnant.
First off, well-directed pride is totally fine.
When we do something that's worth being proud of, we should go for it. Nothing wrong with that, doesn't matter how big or small it is. Our state improves its literacy rate, be proud of it. Our neighbourhood place of worship feeds a bunch of hungry/poor people without any hope or agenda, we can be proud of our community. Our country takes a progressive stand on some important issue, like religious freedom or LGBT rights, sure, go ahead and wave that flag with pride. Our men in uniform rescue a bunch of people from some conflict zone or natural disaster, go ahead and chant their praises. All of these are absolutely fine.
But, we cannot let that pride blind us. Make sure no one - doesn't matter if it's our parents, teachers, local priest/imam/bishop, our elected leaders or even the state - gets to exploit our pride. My pride should exist for one reason only - to increase my self-worth as an individual who knows right from wrong, good from bad.
Which is why I say, too much pride is harmful.
Every time I'm about to say -
I am a proud...
I stop myself right there. No matter what we say to follow those words, we're directly or indirectly implying we're better than someone else. And most often, that sense of superiority comes from attaching ourselves to the achievements of someone else.
The whole pre-occupation with pride is something I've been trying to grapple with over some time now. I mean I used to be proud of a lot of stuff - my school, my hometown, the city I now live in, the country I was born in. But I'm not sure I am, at least not anymore.
"I am a proud Delhiite."
It could be any other place, but still - what does that even mean? I've lived in this city for a decade now, and I know for a fact that there are certain things about it I love while there are some other aspects I hate. Any other city in the world, and I bet it'd still be the same. Why do I need to say I'm proud to be a part of this city, when the truth is, all I've done is learnt how to adjust to its many ups and downs. At the risk of sounding 'anti-national', I'll go a little further and even say that I feel the same for the country I live in.
George Bernard Shaw said -
Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it.
It doesn't mean I don't care. It's home, after all. When India does something good, I feel the joy that most of my countrymen feel - whether it's winning a World Cup or letting an exiled writer stay in our country for fear of religious persecution back home. But I can't let pride blind me to a point where I ignore the bad things about living here. Agreed, no country is perfect, but letting pride turn into jingoism, I can't risk the giving up the hope of a better home. Point is, I don't think that I'm better than anyone just because I live in Delhi, India or any other place.
Can I address religious or racial pride now?
Because that's what really spawned this discomfort I have with the idea of 'pride' in the first place. Just because I was born (purely by chance) in a certain community, race or religion, should I be 'proud' of it? I really don't see the need to display my strong bond with my religion (or the lack thereof) out in the streets, jostling for space with someone who's trying to 'one up' me by displaying his beliefs in a louder way. Nah, fuck that. I have better ways to waste my time.
"So should we stop celebrating our cultural/religious festivals?"
That's not what I'm saying. You go ahead and enjoy your festivals like there's no tomorrow if you have the energy for it, but remember, the difference between a religious festival and a communal riot is a thin line in the scale of excitement. The Celebration means joy. Bollywood's third law of motherly sanskaar says "khushiyaan baatne se badhti hain". That pride you're holding onto when it comes to religion, it only makes your celebration less inclusive.
So maybe the we can do away with it? And while we're at it, maybe we can retire those ugly "proud *insert community* boi" car stickers too, no?
"What about family and friends?"
Again, I love my immediate family to death, and I know most people do the same, but when I hear people say things like "I'm proud of my kids, they can do no wrong", I can't help but cringe. There'll always be moments where your kid wins a prize, or your mom learns to make her way through the new phone, or your best friend scores a goal in some match, but these are just specific moments. You don't have to be perpetually proud of them. They're people too and they too can screw up sometime. Love them, admire them, help them when you can, but don't smother them with this pressure to always be worthy of your pride.
At the end of the day, it's all about self-worth.
By being proud of something, more often than not we're attaching our self-worth to something we didn't really do. And that's the definition of entitlement. I can't help but laugh at the irony here - pride was supposed to motivate us, but now, by being entitled pricks, we're just trying to masquerade our ineptitude using the 'pride filter'. If you absolutely have to be proud of yourself, then do something worthy, do some good, take a stand against injustice... or simply, don't be a dick.
I leave you with this Rabbi Shergill song that sums up pretty much how I feel.
So, what do you think? Do let us know in the comment section.