The Sin of PRIDE

In the 21st century, it’s more difficult to see “pride” as a sin. We think of LGBT pride, Black pride, national pride, Bono singing “In the Name of Love.” Isn’t that song about Martin Luther King — surely he wasn’t a sinner?

Here’s a different take on pride. Actually let’s call it ‘hubris’ so no one gets confused.

Hubris is about insisting on your own greatness. In fact, that’s why Lucifer fell from heaven and ended up on the dark side. He insisted that he was greater than the rest of the crew.  But, Kanye not withstanding, most creative people seem to have a problem with low self-esteem, not grandiosity.

But whereas they would never say that they are better than others, they insist that their work be. They judge their art too harshly, dismissing what they produce with contempt.They demand a higher standard than is reasonable, possible, necessary. They are absolutely intolerant of anything but perfection. It’s hero or zero. Whatever misses the mark gets binned.

If you can’t accept your own normal human weakness, isn’t that hubris? If you are completely intolerant of your own mistakes, isn’t that vanity? Aren’t you saying you can and should be perfect? If it’s a sin to judge others that way, why doesn’t the same apply to how you look at yourself?

If you are unwilling to be vulnerable, you are limited by fear. Overwhelming fear of any form of weakness, of being irrelevant, of being rebuked by others, of falling even slightly below the mark, can prevent you from taking chances. If you are so wary of falling on your face that you won’t take risks, you will never achieve anything great, no matter how high your standards.

Do great work, please, and be proud of it. But don’t let perfectionist, monkey pride stop you from expressing your real, human self.

Third in a series on seven deadly creative sins. Incidentally, and I say this with all due humility, the original list of seven deadly sins was written by Pope Gregory I. Probably no relation.