Christianity identifies pride as one of its sins. I’m going to argue that for Druids, pride should be seen as a virtue. I don’t mean the kind of haughty pride that simply means assuming you are better than others, but justified pride that has roots in something good. People today don’t take enough pride in things.
We should be proud of our skills. Whatever it is that we do, that we make with our own hands, earn with our own sweat, shape with our own ideas or embellish with our own creativity, we should be proud of. Not only should we take pride in the finished thing, but in the skill and dedication that enables us to get the job done. Anything we do, is worth doing well – including the smallest tasks and the briefest interactions. Each moment of life is a chance to express beliefs and values, and we should take pride in doing so. It doesn’t have to make us rigid or pompous, but we have every right to feel good about whatever we do well.
We should take pride in our surroundings. No matter how humble, how run down, how poverty stricken, wherever we are should be a source of pride to us. If it isn’t, there is work to be done. Work we can be proud of. Any space that is valued, cared for and treated with love should be a source of pride. And the same too can be said of our communities and families. We should be proud of them too, and if we can’t be for some reason, there is work to be done. Finding the good in things and the reasons to be proud can be challenging, but we should always be looking. After all, one of the jobs of a bard is to praise and honour what is good. We have to find the good where we can, and celebrate it.
For personal dignity and a sense of self, having things to be rightly proud of is so important. It’s hard to hold a sense of self worth without pride, and if you don’t have that, it’s easy to fall victim to all kinds of mistreatment, both private and institutionalised.
An absence of pride makes it easy to be indolent, wasteful and mean-spirited. Taking no pride facilitates treating ourselves and others with disrespect. We don’t aspire to be and do our very best. We do not give of ourselves. A person who has pride, and takes pride in doing well lives a very different life from one who does not, and has very different relationships. A person without pride, without a sense of doing or being something of value, lives a much narrower and less rewarding life. Someone who aims to do things they can be proud of and who seeks opportunities for justified pride, will both give and receive far more.
There are also so many things we are all implicated in – like the state of the planet, our culture as a whole, world poverty, animal extinctions, human rights abuses… the list is vast and heartbreaking. There is so much about the impact and behaviour of humans that is no source of pride at all. The opposite, in fact. We are a species that has much reason to feel ashamed of itself, and yet does not. Justified pride, and any shift at all we can make towards emphasising it, might make it easier to tackle this critical issue of justified shame as well.