Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pride




No, I’m not going to write about a bunch of large felines – I just like big cats.

No, I’m going to address the other more important meaning of that word, unless you are a lion that is.

It’s one of those words that have lost their meaning.

Not in the same way that FaceWeb degraded the meaning of the word ‘Friend’ to such a degree, when it’s used in its original context, we have to add qualifying statements. (Curiously though, when we use it in the FaceWeb sense of an anonymous someone who clicked a button on an Internet page, no such clarifying comments are needed – what a sad World we’ve made!).

No. ‘Pride’, as a word, suffers from Bad Press.

Even more curiously, the bad-mouthing starts with the dictionary definition.

Take up any dictionary, electronic or paper. Look up ‘Pride’. You will encounter three basic definitions. The last, probably, unless it’s a dictionary written for big cats, will state its use for a gang of lions. It’s the other two that are interesting.

The first will be something like “something such as an achievement or possession that somebody feels especially pleased and satisfied with.” Nothing wrong with that, right? Pride is something everyone feels at some point in their life – such as when you finish writing your first novel, or father a child, or learn how to fly a plane. So it’s a good thing, a pleasant, if transient, experience. Hey, Life can’t be all black, white and greys.

Keep reading…

...“a haughty attitude shown by somebody who believes, often unjustifiably, that he or she is better than others”

What?

Yes, we’ve done it again – used a word in the English language that means both good and not so good aspects of a person. Worse! We’ve laid out the ground for ambiguity!

“Surely, any ambiguous use of this word is cleared up by the context in which it is used?” you might ask.

Unfortunately not.

“Pride goes before a fall!”

Whatever your beliefs, I’m sure you’ve heard that one. It’s in the Bible, they’ll tell you. Er, not quite; it’s actually a mis-quote. The Bible states "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18). Still the essence of pride being a bad thing is clearly there.

Thomas Jefferson said “Pride costs more than hunger, thirst and cold.” Same use; not a good thing.

How about the old Jewish saying “Pride is the mask of one's own faults.” Once again, bad news.

So what happened to the “sense of achievement that you are especially pleased with”?

Well, look around – we are doing are best to scrub it from our actions (note the last word – it’s important).

We, in the Western World, are in a terrible state, of our own making, everywhere. We could try to help ourselves by ‘going that extra mile’ and doing things better – I’m not an American, so don’t ask me about Republicans and Democrats, but when Obama used the “Yes, We Can” slogan in his electoral campaign, I felt good. Could this mean we are trying to give our best, not just to our ‘friends’ but to complete strangers through our daily, if anonymous, interactions? Is the laudable definition of the word making a comeback?

If you go to my web page www.ericjgates.com, and scroll down to the bottom of the page, over on the left you’ll see a blue box with text that says I’m a Proud Member of the Indie Writer's Network (http://indiewritenet.com). Is that a bad thing? Am I about to fall from grace? No! I'm just pleased to have found a group of like-minded individuals who, for the most part, are making the effort to help one another as writers. Check out my previous post about the Network here:  http://my-thrillers.blogspot.com.es/2012/02/long-and-winding-road.html

Look over to the right, on my web’s Home page and you’ll see an animated link for SiteGround (http://www.siteground.com/). I pay them, not the other way around, for allowing me to put that on my web! Why? I pay them to host my site, and that’s my way of thanking them for the outstanding service they provide. Outstanding? Surely they are just doing their job?

Let me tell you briefly about how I came to be hosted at a web-provider in a different continent from where I live. I am, probably, a difficult client for any computer-based business. Why? Look at my Bio: I was writing Operating Systems for some of the World’s largest and most complex computers over forty years ago. I see Information Technology only as a tool – I’m not obsessed by it, as so many today. I am, however, fully aware of its limitations and possibilities. ‘Blame it on the computer’ is an excuse I will not tolerate when people screw up. Computers are dumb (Hell, they only work with 2 values - zero and one -  and will continue to do so until Quantum Computing is a reality). That makes me dangerous to an Internet service provider, like the German one I used before. I wanted to use my web to do certain well-defined tasks, which I knew it would be capable of doing. That pushed their envelope, and they didn’t respond well. I dumped them.

I spent a short while looking around, and, almost by chance, came across a small outfit who had been running for a few years and seemed to care about their customers, according to several testimonials I found on other people’s blogs. This wasn’t the ‘care’ that new companies show – you know, the we’ll-do-everything-possible-to-make-you-a-happy-client care that evaporates as soon as they grow a little. No, this was, and IS, the we’re-with-you-on-your-journey care, the we-go-that-extra-mile care.

(At this juncture, I’m reminded of an old UK TV series, “The Prisoner” and its famous phrase “I am not a number!”)

I decided to try them out, asking for something, hidden pages that were a prize for the diligent site visitor, that I knew was technically possible, yet unclear how to implement using the tools they provided. In less than 12 hours, the Hidden Treasure I wanted to create was a reality. That’s service! That’s Pride!

Hey, but this is the 21st Century – we are all self-interested s-o-b’s. So why bother?

That’s just it. Having Pride in what you do is not some altruistic New-Age meme. It’s not another smile that goes no further than the lips in the tradition of “Have a Good Day”. No, Pride will give you a momentary flutter in your heart; a real sensation of feeling good. Priceless, real emotion.

So let’s fight to recover the original meaning of the word.

Let’s find ways to be proud of what we do. They don’t have to be big things. Just something that leaves us with a smile on our faces in the knowledge that we have achieved something through our effort that will make someone else happier.

Let’s form our own Pride and change the World, one PROUD act at a time!
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