Unchecked pride tarnishes quality of life

Over the course of my last year at Tech I have noticed myself slowly becoming more and more cynical. It hasn’t been a complete change in my personality, but I notice moments when my already sarcastic wit takes a couple steps down the ladder of proper conduct and takes a few shots below the belt. I sometimes catch myself in the midst of thoughts and conversations wondering, “Why did I just say that?”
It’s easy for me to attribute this mood shift to the obvious culprits. I’m really busy this semester. Senior design is tough. I don’t have very much free time. I justify these thoughts as if my schedule excuses my words and actions. I’ve even used my schedule as a foundation for my escalating cynicism. The other day, my roommate asked if I would be able to go shopping for groceries. Rather than politely telling him I couldn’t because I was busy with work, I snapped back at him with a sarcastic tone that gave off the “How dare you ask me to do something when you know how busy I am?” feeling.
There was no reason for that veiled outburst. He hadn’t wronged me, and I wasn’t angry with him. So why did I make the effort to verbally attack him?
Using my schedule as the basis for any cynicism is a poor excuse. We go to Tech; we all have busy schedules. Down in my heart, I wasn’t upset that I was busy. In fact, I typically enjoy being busy due to the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. It wasn’t relief that I craved; I wanted recognition. He needed to see that I was so busy and important that it was foolish for him to even consider asking me to get groceries. I used my tight schedule as a root of comparison that said, “Look how much better I am than you because of my responsibilities.” I prided myself beyond him on the basis that in that particular moment, I might have had more ‘stuff’ in my life. And for a few fleeting moments, it felt great.
C.S. Lewis, a brilliant Christian thinker and author, wrote that pride is the worst of all vices of man. “It was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” From pride stems anger, jealousy, cynicism and other undesirable traits.
In my desire to place myself superior to those around me, I became condescending and arrogant. It isn’t possible to make myself even an ounce better off by putting my friend down. Yet, I risked friendship for mere seconds of superiority in my own mind. As Lewis states, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having it more than the next man.”
Allow me to clarify that when I say pride, I’m not talking of pride for your country, your pride for Tech or even the pride of a job well done. The dilemma begins when our mindset changes from ‘a job well done’ to ‘a job better than anyone else could have done’.
Yes, everyone gets hot headed now and then and says things they shouldn’t. Typically we forgive and move on. However, our words and actions can spawn from small eruptions of pride within us and dig that well deeper. Tracing back through the times where I let my pride rule me, I can pin it as the culprit in friendships that cut off, relationships that rotted and missed opportunities on the chance to have a real impact.
So I want to apologize. I recognize that I constantly give into my pride. I am sorry for how I have mistreated people for the sake of myself. I have failed in this as both a follower of Christ and as a friend.
Pride is something that hurts all people, regardless of religious belief. Pride is so dangerous because it sneaks up on us. Everyone can see it in everybody else, but often struggle to admit they have it. Lewis says, “Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” When we put ourselves higher with our own pride, we are only putting other people lower. This selfish act is, in its essence, the opposite of love.
An easy way to gauge how proud you are is to see how upset you get when someone else is proud. It’s so easy to allow pride to make a mountain out of a molehill. Grades in school, course workload, athletic ability, physical appearances, handling rejection and personal independence are some basic instances where our pride can easily take the helm. Is it really worth demoralizing a stranger, shattering a friendship or hurting the people we love for the sake of how we regard ourselves?


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