Sunday’s Wisdom #151: Don’t Be Too Proud

“Pride means nothing when other people do everything for you.”
– Mai Taniyama, Ghost Hunt
Episode 25, “File 8: The Cursed House, Part 4”

…what? It’s Halloween time! When else should I quote ghost-themed anime, eh? 😉

When Mai says this, at the height of the show’s climax, she’s talking to a rather narcissist with whom she’s grown very frustrated. He’s rather self-absorbed and filled with pride, always looking down on people a little. It’s not entirely without merit, as he is highly capable and makes rather stringent demands of himself, but when his pride has been wounded, he is wrathful and does not hesitate to roll that burden onto the shoulders of his friends. They’re the ones doing all the heavy lifting while he stands and watches, and when they’re exhausted, he keeps pushing them until Mai pushes back.

That’s when he finally steps up and gets his own hands dirty, being momentarily humbled by the truth.

I have noticed that there are several kinds of “pride” in the world. One involves being proud of a loved one’s behavior and achievements, and another involves being proud of one’s own. Still another, however, is little more than filling oneself with hot air. Having an ego can be a good thing, if it drives you forward to accomplish things, to be one’s best self. However, when the focus becomes not that, but being better than others, standing above others and looking down on them, that is an ego which is no longer useful.

One sees this sort of pride all the time, it’s practically universal. People who are lower on society’s totem pole look up and see people who are better off, and maybe aren’t so nice, and they judge, as if they’re any better. And people higher on the social ladder? They’re rather famous for having so much money, and so much stuff, and so many people doing for them the everyday things that everyone else must do for themselves: cook, clean, prepare food, shop, mow the lawn, drive the car, etc. It’s not uncommon for them to look down

What the people at both ends of the spectrum fail to remember is: they need each other.

It’s more obvious with a rich person. They may have money enough to buy the finer things in life, but they’re dependent on the people who work for them. Everything they need is literally being done for them. If they didn’t have their money, I wonder how many of them would find themselves at a loss when faced with those everyday tasks. Unless they came up from a lower rung or have been deliberately raised in a particular way, I’m guessing it would be quite a few. So, how much is their ego worth when they can’t even take care of themselves?

As for the poor person: where do they think their jobs come from? Their shelter, their food, their clothes, their transportation, all the goods and services they use every day, these are provided by companies, which, running profitably, make their owners rich. No human can provide every single thing they need on their own, that’s why we exchange with each other.

Everyone is reliant on everyone else for everything.

Thus, that pride which demands we stand above others is, now and always, empty, hollow, and meaningless.

If the people at the top did not have the people at the bottom, there would be no bottom, and they would fall. And if the people at the bottom did not have people at the top, the bottom would fall out from under them, and they, too, would fall, straight into darkness.

In short: whatever your social status, remember we are all still equals.

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