“I could never understand ethnic or national pride. Because to me pride should be reserved for something you achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth. Irish isn’t a skill, it’s a fuckin genetic accident. You wouldn’t say ‘I’m proud to be 5’11’ or ‘I’m proud to have a predisposition for colon cancer’. So why the fuck should you be proud to be Irish, or proud to be Italian, or American, or anything?” – George Carlin, comedian, writer, and social critic
Pride is, as a noun, a satisfaction from one’s personal achievements. Pride can also mean pride in a particular skill or feature. I’ve begun thinking about pride, how it’s used and expressed, and how pride has been hijacked.
People often express pride in race or ethnicity. “Be proud that you’re this!”. One big gaping hole in this, though, is choice. Why should I be proud over something that I had no choice in, anyway? I had no choice in what body I would end up in, none. I had no choice in what social circumstances I would end up in and what contacts I would have, as well. I had no control over any of that. Why the hell should I take pride in my appearance? Why the hell should I take shame in it, either? I had absolutely no control over what my ancestors did generations ago. I had absolutely no control of what historical events were happening. Therefore, I shouldn’t take pride, I shouldn’t take shame, either. What I should be proud and ashamed of, though, are the things that I have done personally, not what others have done. Absolutely not one bit of pride or shame.
Ethnic pride is not only a dumb thing upon a closer look, but it only creates more problems than solutions. Ethnic pride does much more to separate us than it does to unite us. We see ourselves as all kinds of identities. We can see ourselves as White, Black, Asian, whatever. Not only that, but we can see ourselves as sub ethnicities as well. English, German, French, Irish, Italian, Spanish, Russian, the list goes on and on. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and the list goes on and on. Even within these nationalities there are subdivisions as well. In Italy, there are Sicilians, Venetians, and more. In Spain, there are Basques, Catalans, and Galicians. In the United Kingdom, there are English, Scots, Welsh, and Irish (and don’t get me started on the differences between the Lowland Scots and the Highland Scots!). My basic point is that we’re only separating ourselves rather than unifying ourselves, all over something we had no control in the first place anyway. Sometimes we take it much more seriously than it really needs to be. People have killed other people off for stupid things like ethnic pride. “I’m proud to be white and hate blacks, therefore, I’m going to burn down your house and ruin your entire life over a trivial thing that you had no control over!”. That irkes me.
What’s worse is that people will be proud of what their ethnicity did, all as if they did it single-handedly! White supremacists will claim that the white race is superior to others because “whites have accomplished more than other races, and therefore have more to be proud of”, even though this is completely ignorant of the fact of what other types of people have done! The Chinese, Arabs, Africans, and Scandinavians all played roles in the advancement of ships. Not one can be responsible for their modern reliability. Various West African civilizations created the first modern universities, in which European visitors exported that idea into Europe, and later spread around the world. Modern democracy has so many roots in Greek, Roman, African, and Native American civilizations. In almost all cases not one civilization created “everything” or “most”. Rather, it was the combined efforts of many civilizations, and often not at the same time.
I won’t try to drag this post as far as I can, because that would skew the message and confuse the reader. The basic point here is: don’t take pride or shame in what others have done in the past, but rather, take pride (and shame) in what you have done and what you will do. Don’t take pride in something you have no control over, because as I said, it creates a host of many other problems.