I have been accused of having pride or perhaps of being proud of myself. Of not giving in to people’s demands when they need me to, of not calling people all the time, of not devoting all my time and resources for other people’s causes and the other bs people accuse you of when you try to live your own life in peace and without drama. Funny how trying to do that will attract all the drama you are trying to avoid. But in actuality, what exactly am I being accused of? Pride is a high sense of the worth of one’s self and one’s own pleasure or a pleasure taken in the contemplation of these things. I am a man who knows his worth and I am proud of it. I am a man proud of the things I do, the things I cherish and the things I love. And I love the things I do for a man cannot claim to truly love something he is not proud of. It would be paradoxical, wouldn’t it?
So, in light of these accusations, I have once again been forced into contemplation of the same. To try and understand why a man would be encouraged to know his worth and be proud of it and then be discouraged from celebrating his achievements once he has accomplished all that. Although we are bombarded by admonitions like “make yourself proud”, “make your parents, or your country proud of you”, “be proud of your nationality, your profession, your work, your lineage, your race etc.”, we are simultaneously instructed to be humble and not take credit for any of it. That humility is the most precious of all qualities in a human being. That pride is one of the seven deadly sins. That pride is an offense towards others and much more in that vein.
I am an avid football fan and have time and again been involved in endless debates over who is the best footballer between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. And of these two, why is one considered humble and the other one proud? And why the proud one is always crucified. It always boils down to issues of humility and pride and I always side with the seemingly proud CR7 because he deserves it for he has worked hard for everything he has and he proudly tells that to everyone who cares to listen. Thou the less talented of the two, I greatly admire his spirit, vigor and determination to be nothing but the best. He inspires me but let’s save that for another day because I can already feel Messi fans starting to breath down my neck despite my sincere efforts to be objective. Sometimes we football fans lack objectivity and end up substituting facts with our own opinions. It is all about what we like and we don’t need a reason to like it. Savages!!
I would have loved to use a football analogy to drive my point. It is what most of us are conversant with. But because am a proud man as accused, I will use one on a topic that not so many of you follow. Golf and Tennis- sport for the rich. Not because am rich but because of an innate need to exert my intellectual dominance on people for the purpose of enlightening them. I do not and will not deny loving being the smartest one in the room (Cooper stop it! You sound like you are bragging). Also me, (I know, right) and then proceeds to laugh out loud alone in my bedsit-which I now call theatre of dreams– like an idiot. Point to note, I am NOT a Manchester United fan!!!
Back to our story; if for example, you start playing golf at an early age and put all your focus, love, intention and energy on it, managing to excel, showing great talent, everybody encourages you to become and TO BE the best. If however, like Tiger Woods, you actually succeed in becoming the best, by winning most competitions and events than anybody else in human history, staying for the longest time rated No.1 in history, and on top of that the media universally declare you as the best golfer ever, you are nonetheless never allowed to agree neither with the media nor with your fans. If asked in an interview, you are supposed to be humble, to deny it, to give credit to your coach, your family and under no circumstances declare “I am the best golfer that has ever lived”, even if you and everybody else believes you are! You would be committing not only a mortal sin but you would be somehow offending everybody else! You are required to conform to the norm of denying everything you have achieved which CR7 has clearly refused to do and hence the reason I idolize him. He is unconventional; never wanting to be tied by such paradoxical norms or be defined by lame people who are at best mere mediocre in their respective fields.
If in addition, you achieve a major milestone in the sport, you are not supposed to congratulate yourself in any way. Look at the synonyms in the dictionary for congratulating yourself, for being happy and proud for your achievement: advertise yourself, aggrandize, attract attention, boast, brag, crow, gloat, grandstand, hug oneself, pat oneself on the back, toot one’s own horn, blow your own horn, blow smoke, bluster, cock-a-doodle-doo, exaggerate, exult, fake, flatter oneself, flaunt, flourish, gasconade, jive, lay on thick, prate, preen, puff, shoot, shovel, show off, showboat, shuck, sling, sound off, strut, swagger, talk big, triumph, vapor among the most used. ALL OF THEM DEROGATORY, BAD!
So, to congratulate one´s self for a job well done is equal to social death and exposure to judgment and resentment.
Tennis player Roger Federer, declared by the media as the greatest of all time, his list of records, achievements and accolades a page long, in an interview with Andy Roddick, the champion he deposed in 2004 as No.1 by beating him in the Wimbledon finals early that year, was complimented by his host for not celebrating his victory against him and his achievement of an unprecedented 15th championship after the Wimbledon finals of 2009, one of the most hotly contested, dramatic and long final matches. I know you know nothing about that (laughs).
The comments were verbatim:
Roddick: “Going to the locker room and I am at my locker, being very emotional, breaking down, it was a heart breaking loss and the thing that I remember is your team coming in and you giving them silent fist pounds and kind of giving them hugs, but it was in a very reserved manner. Cause it was like you were taking into consideration that this was hard for me, do you remember that moment at all?”
Federer: “I mean, the moment was probably tougher for you than it was happier for me, I think it is so important to respect, you know, your fellow athletes and competitors, and I know how hard you’ve tried and how difficult it must be, because unfortunately you can´t have it all and that match…(raising his hands apologetically)”
Roddick: (Jokingly).“You can, you selfish bastard”
Federer: (Sort of jokingly). “But seriously you deserved it so much and I think this was for me a totally normal thing to do (not celebrate visibly) and not extraordinary at all really.”
Roddick: “Well, it was impressive to me and I certainly appreciated it.”
When I found the video while researching interviews of people widely considered as the greatest in their respective fields to see what they say about themselves, I was incredulous at the exchange. Federer saying that his opponent deserved so much to win, a ridiculous notion since he had beaten Riddick repeatedly in the past, and furthermore declaring humbly that reducing and hiding his happiness whenever he achieves a milestone in his career, is a totally normal thing for him to do! He couldn’t´t even accept the compliment for his consideration and his modesty! Examples of the same “admirable” attitude abound in everything. If you congratulate yourself or enjoy any success or achievement somehow you are a horrible person for “patting yourself in the back” or “gloating”. Suffer with your failures and suffer for your achievements as well, because either somebody else has lost in order for you to win, and you should be commiserating with them, or you should be stringently avoiding to celebrate lest you commit the sin of reminding those who never even try their failure, often through inaction, lack of will, intention, effort and passivity.
So, if you lose you are miserable, and if you win you must be neither happy nor proud lest you offend the loser! When is it your turn? When do you deserve to be happy and proud?
Time for lessons now; Pride is the measure of conditionality of love, since you cannot truly love something you are not proud of. If you say you love your partner or child, but are embarrassed by something they do or are, a characteristic you are not proud of, that something is where your love is conditional, where you do not actually love them. If you love your house, you are proud to show it off, but if there is one part you wish to hide, that part is where your love becomes conditional, where your oneness is incomplete, where your love is tainted. So, the paradox of this whole pride thing is expressed as: “Love yourself, but love others more, but do not be proud of yourself, so do not love yourself, be humble, do not think too much of yourself, so do not love yourself!” What kind of a messed up notion is that? Or am I the only one finding this ridiculous? Am I the crazy one or is it that all other people are crazy and I’m the only sane one?
© C.J NJOROGE