2013-09-04

Pride, the Wrong, and Pride, the Redress

There is a designated "pride month": June. Yet “pride” is also one of the traditional seven deadly sins. There's no indication that envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, lust, or anger are going to get their own commemorative month any time soon. That’s probably because they don’t need one. Groups that have been made to feel ashamed have a need to reclaim pride.

Oppression, exclusion, disempowerment inevitably links to shame. What could justify the oppression or exclusion of a group other than some of version of a claim that the group isn’t worthy of respect and inclusion? Pride insists upon worthiness and thereby reveals as unjustified any oppression or exclusion. What could maintain discrimination better than teaching the out-group to be ashamed of who they are? Pride counteracts the forces of shame and empowers to reclaim a rightful place.

If we are sympathetic to LGBT pride, but not to the "straight pride" advanced primarily by social conservative groups, and if we are sympathetic to the black pride movement, but not to the white pride movement, it is because we discern that the forces of shame have historically and wrongfully come down hard on LGBTness or African Americanness, and not on straightness or whiteness. It is because the thing we would like to end is LGBT shame and black shame and female shame, and the corollary thing we would like to end is straight arrogance, white arrogance, and male arrogance.

Our groupings don’t exist without historical context. It’s not like it’s recess and we only just now – and randomly – chose up teams for some game. There’s a historical context that defines the reality of our identities. Against the backdrop of history we can see how arrogance emerged, developed, and manifested in some groups, and how that is connected to the corresponding shaming of other groups. Too much pride in some quarters means too little pride in others.

As the African American writer Michael Eric Dyson has observed: "White pride is the vice that makes black pride necessary."

Or, as Martin Luther King put it several decades earlier: “Yes, we must stand up and say, ‘I’m black and I’m beautiful,’ and this self-affirmation is the black man’s need, made compelling by the white man’s crimes against him.”

Pride: arrogance, vanity, hubris, haughtiness, conceit, snobbery, self-importance. In a more ideal world we would have no use for the swellings of pride. It’s true that in this actual world, far from ideal as it is, Lake Chalice supports and encourages LGBT pride, black pride, immigrant pride, Latino pride and any pride needed to bring better balance to our unbalanced world. The reason those prides are needed is to counteract harmful effects of pride. In a more ideal world, we'd have cured all shame with pride, and then cured all pride with humility.

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This is part 27 of "The Seven Deadlies" (Part 2 of 5 on Pride)
Next: Part 28: "Pride, the Hindrance"
Previous: Part 26: "Pride?"
Beginning: Part 1: "Seven and Sins"