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The problem with pride

12 March 2012, 11:03

Pride, a feeling of pleasure from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is associated, or from qualities or possession.

National pride, or patriotism is defined as a love and devotion to a country or homeland for no other reason than being a resident there.

There you have it, one of the single most important ingredients to success, as well as the outcomes  and fruits success bears.

It has the capability to build and destroy, sometimes even at the same time, to incept unification or to lead to the destruction of a nation.

Pride has lead to wars, yet it also ended them with the same passion they were embarked on in the first place.

Pride serves as a common denominator; it is a liquid concept, in as much as the motivation behind the feeling it generates within us, and may vary from person to person.

It is something that has different meanings for whoever is willing to perceive it as proud. For one person the winning of the 2007 Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle of their pride or patriotism they will feel for this country.

Others would say that a peaceful transition from the previous regime to the current is a feat most countries, especially those who find themselves in Africa, would never be able to achieve with the amount of success we have, and that this deserves more patriotism than any other accomplishment we pride ourselves on.

For others, the ability we have to surprise the world, by keeping ourselves from imploding due to political tensions, is the benchmark of what national pride should be.  Mind you, this may be the only perception keeping us from our own destruction anyway...

The main problem with pride however, especially patriotism, is that it is subject to abuse, both by those in power, as well as those who just want to justify their actions or views, and yield it as a weapon to instil others to a perceived state of mind, where subjective wills are punted as the truth.

 Hitler used national pride as a unification tool, and in so doing managed to swindle a highly intelligent nation into blindly supporting a tainted and evil onslaught on freedom, peace and justice.

 Most non-Nazi Germans, at the time, would shrug their shoulders after the Second World War when asked why they supported him in the first place. They couldn’t really give an answer, barring the fact that they were uplifted and empowered for a short while, enough anyway to blame hyped up national pride when faced with a holocaust victim, or the mere existence of the SS.

You might then ask yourself, if national pride is even necessary in today’s day and age?

During 1970, American psychologist, Abraham Maslow published a book entitled “Motivation and Personality”, which today, forms part of any tertiary study of Economics across the globe, and as such most people with a commerce degree or diploma would know the relevance thereof as it illustrates the effect humans have on the subject matter.

 In short, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs basically indicates a five stage model of human development with the basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid, and social needs at the top, as development progresses.

“So what?” you might ask...

Well, the interpretation of its relevance is simple, as I shall try to explain...

Pride, forms part the ultimate stage of development in the hierarchy, being the need for Self Actualisation, whereas the object of the pride being felt, is part of the second last step, being Esteem Needs.

In a South African context, pride, as well as the potential lack thereof, needs to be considered as most of the pride felt in today’s day and age is based on the successes we have in sport, which, on a sidebar, for a nation our size is truly commendable.

However, it doesn’t build national pride to the levels expected of a potential world power. Before I continue, know this, we are on our way to becoming a world power in terms of influence in our region, but at the same time, we are on a knifes edge, as this country’s inhabitants are also in the process of fumbling the ball five metres from the try line.

Simply put, our problem is the lack of national unity or patriotism, for which there are two main reasons.

The first is vested in the division of its nations, and as the division deepens day by day, it becomes more unlikely that they may be reconciled with one another in the near future. For purposes of this article, I will refer to the relationship between whites and Africans, although the efforts of all the other nations, coloureds, Indians and Asians are also noted. This is simply because I deem the reasons for these divisions to be mostly due to white and African perceptions.

The second reason is pride. The one group has too much of it emphasized on the deemed past glory’s and the other has lost it in cultural differences within themselves during recent years, and rather focussed on self pride than patriotism.

Pride used to be synonymous with the whites of South Africa during apartheid, albeit perceived and based on a system that is irreconcilable with humanity, the point remains that they, we, were proud to be who we are.

On the other hand, Africans had nothing to be proud of during apartheid, as they were fighting for something, in this case their country. When apartheid eventually lost its grip, and democracy saw the light, the purveyors of the “struggle” had a combined patriotism of what they had managed to achieve.

It was this pride that also lead to a peaceful transition to the government of the middle and late 90’s, as they would have lost the right to be proud humane leaders, had it not been so peaceful and based in logic.

Even the whites of the time felt pride in their achievement, as the referendum of 1992 credited them with the assistance to peaceful transition. It was handshakes all around, and a truce was reached where both sides maintained a mutual respect for one another. For a while, anyway...

However, gradually, the sickness associated with Africa eventually showed its ugly head. A complete lack of patriotism, which has seen the downfall of many other African countries, is on the rise, making space for vanity, perceived self pride.

The problem with this is that when you lose pride for yourself, and the eventual patriotism for your country, the individual’s needs are regarded higher than the collective pride of what can be achieved. Corruption, poor leadership, tender fraud and a host of many other by-products of self promotion instead of pride, is evident of this decay.

The whites aren’t innocent in this at all, as the antagonism, and constant need to criticise all that is managed by an African Governments, has created the division even more so than any other nation. Far too little whites consider themselves proud of South Africa as a country as it stands today, as they feel left out as outsiders who need to be milked for their money and skills, until he former and the latter is exhausted or absolute, and they aren’t needed anymore. So, they rather focus their pride on sport achievements to fulfil their need for patriotism.

But the need is still there with a number of them...

It also exists with African’s that understand the dangers of self preservation at the cost of self actualisation. The problem they have is that they aren’t always allowed to intervene on an intellectual front, as their co-Africans then regard them as “coconuts”, which turned their back on their own kind by saying the same some old whites are saying. On the other hand, they cannot, and do not want to associate themselves with a minority that is perceived to have become blatantly racist in many respects.

Our attempts to unify ourselves as a nation are, and will remain to be futile, until such time as our own issues with pride are acknowledged. This, and only this, will lead to a national pride that unifies us against the world as it stands today.

Currently it is simply a situation where the one group retaliates with the same means as the other, solely because the other is doing so, and either perceives a threat, or criticism. Natural wisdom would rather dictate at least one of the groups to stand back, and acknowledge the others concerns, so as to create a mirror response which is positive, rather than negative.

Who that group is, remains to be seen, but what is clear is that someone will have to take the lead for the other the follow, and break the stalemate.

In my view, the catalyst to this perceived tension should come from both sides, albeit that only one needs to instigate, the other needs to follow by dropping the unnecessary criticism based on race. On the other hand, the other needs to develop patriotism again, and do away with the culture of self-pride. (I know, this is a discussion that needs to be addressed in full on a different day, and maybe at a different forum).

So, how patriotic are you really? Are you willing to set your possibly tainted and certainly self-serving opinion aside?

Why would you still fight your opponent, when both of you are in a room with a ticking time bomb you are only able to neutralise with your collective inputs?

Could it be too much pride that hinders us...?

Or maybe, a lack thereof...


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