Saturday, May 29, 2010

Takes one to know one.

I've been thinking about pride a lot this week, mostly because I am dealing with an issue in my heart that stems from pride. I was trying to explain some of my thoughts to my sister, but I couldn't, and all the while i was thinking: if C.S. Lewis was here he would know what I was talking about. So, I return to the pride chapter of Mere Christianity: I read it in high school but still remember it.

...Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others.

Ouch. I am so good at spotting proud people.

In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off? The point is that each person's pride is in competition with everyone else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that pride is essentially competitive - is competitive by its very nature - while the other vices are competitive, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove that he is better than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he could possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power.

I am at my core competitive. I want to be better than other people. And that's disgusting. I hate myself for that. How can I fix the problem? Read the rest of the chapter, and the Bible, to find out. But here is a taste:

...He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble - delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.

To get even near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

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