“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.”
T. S. Eliot
I grew up in Iran, where people’s biggest pride was their country’s past and their ancestors who some 2000 years ago ruled one third of the world. Iranians all over the country send hundreds of emails about “Persian Pride” every day, reminding each other of their country's past –a glorious past. It is not so hard to guess why these emails are so popular in Iran, even though a great deal of their contents is just glorified but false statements on Iran’s history. It is simple; when there has been nothing to be proud of in the present, Iranians have decided to find something else to be proud of, even if it had happened 2000 years ago, and even they didn’t know if it had happened for sure. What they haven’t realized is that pride not only belongs to the present and not to the past, but it belongs to achievements and choices of one.
Once I used to think it was only Iranians, who under the pressure of their time were trying to find a way to be proud of themselves, but when, in my teen years, I moved to the United States, I realized it was the same here. I still heard people saying “I’m proud to be American!” Although this is a little different from the “Persian Pride” but it comes from the same wrong attitude.
After all it is not only Iranians who are looking for something to be proud of, but it’s us all, as humans.
Anyway, this type of pride has never made any sense to me, whether in Iran or in the States, because I can’t understand being proud of something one has got nothing to do with, whether it is race, nationality, or even family. I, personally, do not remember ever being asked where and in which family I would like to be born in. Family is not a source for pride, and neither should it be one for shame, because no one gets the chance to choose whose daughter/son they’d want to be. In birth we are all equal, and that’s why Pride should come from what one has become, not from what one already has been –and is.
Simply, all these are just forces of nature, nothing more. Being proud of such force is just as foolish as saying “I’m proud to be pulled down by the gravity!” While the real pride should belong to the deeds one does or choices he/she makes and not things that are given to one at birth.
Nowadays pride has only become a tool for us, to make us feel better about ourselves when actually there is nothing to be proud of. This pride is nothing but destructive; it can lead to a false feeling of self importance or even worse -- to prejudice.
However, there are still a lot to be proud of. One can be proud of their children because part of the children is what we raise them to be. One can be proud of the good friends they have made because again, they are choices and not forces. Most importantly one can –and one should- be proud of the person they are. If who they are is the person they’ve chosen to be, they should be proud of themselves more than anything else, because to become a person of your choice is breaking out of forces of nature, time, culture and race.
Feeling proud is good; everyone likes it but it is only true if it is achieved and not given. If you rather to believe in a sweet lie than struggling for real pride, then go ahead, hold your head up high and be proud of all things you’ve got nothing to do with —there’s enough of them to be proud forever.