Justifying Pride and Shame

If you have no choice in something, is pride or shame justified? I don’t think you should be ashamed of your nose or proud of your skin color. You were born how you were born.

You didn’t choose your skin color. Pride in a culture that shares the skin color seems superficial. Pride is a defense mechanism against differences around you. It keeps you from changing because of shame. There is a middle ground that makes more sense.

There isn’t a culture that prizes attached earlobes, so people aren’t proud of them. It’s a silly thing to be proud of, but skin color is in the same category. Human race is not scientifically valid. There exists differences among cultures. Those have the impact.

Pride subtly puts down everyone else. But at least you feel better about yourself. Shame for a nonchoice is worse, like a physical deformity or alcoholic parents. That’s really sad.

In End Malaria there is an excellent essay by Michael Bungay Stanier. He talks about how his cleft lip and palate influences his life as a speaker and professional.

He chooses to see it as a source of power, a way to stand out, to not be bland. Blandness should be our aversion, not weirdness. Being a mediocre person should be anathema, not the color of skin or the shape of a face.

These physical aversions have evolutionary reasons. We aren’t used to them, they hurt the chances for reproduction. But how shame is self-inflicted?

We are what we choose to do. Don’t condemn someone for how they look. Let them open their mouth and reveal how much taste they can bring to your life.

As animals we won’t fully get away from pride or shame for nonchoices at this point. But I still feel humans can change how they act toward one another. That break in traditions pushes us forward.

On an individual level we are all weird. We all have flaws and we all are crazy. That’s a source of genius, not destruction. The differences we have promote innovation. Humans advance when they ignore the status quo. The only rule is that no rules last.

Shame for a nonchoice is baseless. You are unique. No other creature has your experiences. What makes you embarrassed? End what doesn’t make sense.

Similarly, pride for a nonchoice is arrogance. Feel pride for helping your fellow man, feel compassion. Oddness should not be a source of derision.

You can do much more than you think is possible. It’s hard to remember what it was like before you knew something. Can you bring to mind learning the multiplication table? Do the work and the thing is easy. Don’t, and everything is impossible.

Be proud of your accomplishments. Be proud of the fun your species has.

Give up your artificial shame.

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