Pride and Shame


Article E11


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  1. A person or a community may be proud or ashamed of something. What does it mean? What is pride? What is shame? These emotions, and indeed many other emotions such as love, hatred, joy, sorrow, jealousy, greed, anger may be explanable in terms of physics and chemistry of various parts of brain. Science may lead to artificial control of emotions. This technical side is not considered here.
  2. Any achievement (more so, if acclaimed by others) results in a feeling of satisfaction. Pleasant memories and prizes give rise to pride. On the other hand, any failure (more so, if denounced by others) leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction. Unpleasant memories and losses give rise to shame. A proud person prefers to face the world squarely. An ashamed person prefers to remain in hiding. Well, there are some shameless, unrepenting characters too!
  3. Pride helps to inspire work for further achievements. Hence society treats pride as a big virtue and value. Shame too has utility to caution against further failures. Excessive pride may turn into arrogance, and contempt for the deprived people who may eventually criticize or even attack the proud ones. Excessive shame may result in suicides. Society should create means to check such excesses. For example, every writer may be barred from book competitions after winning two big prizes. Prisoners may be given useful training to overcome stigma. Assuming existence of God, the proud ones should thank God for success, and the ashamed ones should repent for misdeeds. That would reduce overburden of pride and shame. If the misdeed is reparable, like wrongful destruction of a glass article, the same may be compensated honorably with apology, so that shame need not be formed.
  4. Sizable numbers of people may share uncomfortable shame, based on color of skin, abnormal habits of sex and so on. They may come together, to remove the social stigma. They may form themselves into proud associations of proud persons. They may mobilize agitations for their rights and honor.
  5. Sometimes history is distorted, to develop false pride. If a country conquers another country, the conqueror may propagate true and false pride to justify aggression. The victims may search for a partly real, partly hypothetical glorious past, to overcome shame and to get inspiration for freedom struggle. Distortions should be removed when the domination ends. But that may not happen. Some wild guesses may find way in books of history. Sometimes historical persons with bad record are shown with good image, and vice versa. Present generations might invoke pride or shame for real or imaginary happenings centuries ago.
  6. Mankind is divided into many compartments like languages, religions, and nations. These compartments cannot be wished away. They are almost thrust upon us by accident of our birth. They nurture loyalties, which are useful to some extent for progress of society. However, we must realize that every compartment has certain faults too. Fair history of every person or community has areas of both pride and shame. Outwardly we may say anything, our conscience tells us what is just and true. If a country attacks another country for no valid reason, some thinkers in the attacker country register strong public protests keeping aside pride for their country. Dividing walls break during great events. For example, first landing on Moon in 1969 was a matter of pride for whole mankind, not only for USA.
  7. In conclusion, pride and shame are facts of life. They should be viewed properly.

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Updated on : $ January 1, 2015 $
Author : Madhukar N Gogate