From a significant perspective, there are two hierarchies of pride: one ranging from pride in one’s physical body to pride in country and one ranging from pride in small achievement to pride in large achievement. The difference is between benign, mostly innate quality and effort of will.
Pride is an emotion, so we don’t need to judge people too harshly for feeling immense pride in how their body looks, but we need not act as thought that person ought to. This is probably fairly apparent to many, but what is important is how similar this sort of pride (often referred to as vanity) is to family pride. A family shares genetics, and we generally wish to care for our families, and many wish to hold their families in high regard regardless of the character of said family’s individuals. The simplest way to reflect these things is in a feeling of pride, and our monkey brains prefer simple things. This entire hierarchy is based on reacting to a sense of belonging in such a way that tries to relate the positive emotions of fulfilling that social need to the objective, uncaring world. This issue has been obscured in the past, what with family prestige being related to power over others, but at its core the pride always came from a desire to be naturally good. National pride too can be defended by referring to a country’s achievements, but being proud to be a citizen of the United States does not bring an individual any closer to the achievements of those many in power.
It’s interesting how such an individualistic society such as the one that I live in has maintained subscription to such a collective way of experiencing the world. ‘Such and such action brings the family pride, such and such action brings the family shame.’ Treating a family as a unit, that the individual represents the group… it’s a dangerous way of handling responsibility. While it may force individuals to more seriously consider the needs of others, there is little preventing this from merely being for the sake of saving one’s own skin. There is still an individual aspect to this perspective: ‘I have brought shame to my family/business/country.’
People can argue that this is wrong, and point to the achievements and good characters of others in their group, and make their pride sound like fellow-feeling, like compassion. If that was the case, though, and this form of pride is valuable, these folks ought to be pursuing even more successful groups- but no; this is tribalism. The innate bond by genes or place of birth or even unconscious choice masquerading as one’s nature has great value in the emotional programming of those in question. We still carry this primitive notion that what is natural is what is pure, innocent, and good. ‘Nature is good by nature’ is what this argument comes down to, a circular logic- this is why it is considered a red herring fallacy. The purity of nature is that it has no value.
Your physical attractiveness is not inherently good. My belonging to a family is not inherently good. His sexual orientation is not inherently good. Her race is not inherently good. Their nationality is not inherently good. Others might argue that your body is good, but that is only true as long as you have agreed to share it with them, whether for the pleasures of their sight or their touch. My belonging to a family is only good for me, if I choose to work on my relationships with them and doing so benefits me. Utilizing one sexual orientation is no different from utilizing an other in terms of the Good. Being of one race or an other is only better or worse because of arbitrary, caustic social constructs, and there are no choices to be made about one’s race. Having been born on one patch of soil as opposed to an other, regardless of their difference of culture and politics, only reflects on the individual as far as how it chooses to identify.
Why is this a problem? Why is feeling good ever a problem? Why care for objective truth as long as we feel good? The answer to those questions is usually that only concerning one’s self with immediate positive emotions and sensations will significantly harm individuals in the long run or significantly harm society. Pride in inherent value assigns a sort of mystical perspective that causes us to judge others on useless pretenses. It breeds tribalism, and tribalism breeds hatred for what is foreign, and a distaste for the foreign stalls personal growth, societal progress, and makes unity and the most needed of compassion impossible. Being comfortable in your body is good for your confidence. Vanity brings negative judgment on those who don’t look similar. Feeling lucky to have been born in a country that values freedom is humbling. Pride in one’s country creates hatred for those of other countries.
The alternative, as mentioned above, is pride in personal achievement, in our choices, in our efforts. Pride in my success is an emotion that encourages me to aim higher and achieve more. Pride in my heritage encourages me to stagnate, because I’ve decided that I’m good by nature, that I’m good no matter how I behave. To focus on achievement, focus on how good it feels to face the odds and succeed when we could have failed, encourages us to not be satisfied with what we are. This does not mean that we are bad when are are not in the process of succeeding. This only means that we will feel that our identities are fluid, that regardless of how good we are we can always become better, so there is no need to fear being bad. We can become more friendly, more logical, more caring, more physically fit, more ethically sound, more academically skilled, more in control of our selves.
We can impress others with our skills in stead of our looks. We can build and choose our own families based on shared values in stead of shared genetics. We can work toward world peace in stead of world domination. We can work toward being better than we were in stead of simply deciding that we are better than other people.