Last year, I wrote a story called Pride and Greed about how those two sins work together to create an abusive relationship. But now that I think about it, the story is not quite right. I mean, the story helped me to understand how Will and I “happened”, but it’s off somehow. The story is off if you think Pride as complete and utter sin.
There are philosophers whose opinions differ with the 7 Deadlies; philosophers whose words did not make it into the Bible. Aristotle wrote,
“Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues; for it makes them greater, and it is not found without them. Therefore it is hard to be truly proud; for it is impossible without nobility and goodness of character.”
The idea that pride has two opposing meanings fits neatly into the idea of pride being at both ends of the expanding/contracting continuum. Pride exists in a positive way when one sets out to do something worthwhile, and in accomplishing that goal, recognizes it. God rewards humans for doing good things; pride is the result of doing good things. Why would we feel pride after doing something good if we weren’t meant to feel pride as a reward? Knowing you did the right thing and feeling good about that is supposed to be its own reward.
The problem comes in when we forget that the good things we did were for the benefit of all (and All/God). The second we do good things to glorify ourselves or see our names in the papers, that’s when we step into the shit side of pride. There’s a fine line between pride as a virtue and pride as a sin.
When I met my husband, I exhibited pride as a virtue. He broke me down, and the pain of falling down so swiftly changed the way in which I exhibited pride. I no longer felt that I had the opportunity to do good things for All. I did them for Will or not at all. When I was able to make Will act like he was happy with me, I felt pride. At first, I was proud of myself for doing something good. But as time passed, “doing something good” became more and more difficult. Will was never happy with me, it seemed. That’s when the pride dynamic changed and became even more twisted.
In time, I was proud of myself when I was able to force him to be happy. If I could outwit him at his own game, put him in a position where he HAD to be happy due to some past desire he had expressed, then I was proud of myself. He wasn’t really happy and I knew he wasn’t really happy, but goddammit he had to be nice because he said he would be if I did what I had done.
It’s convoluted. I warped pride from a virtue to a sin, and then didn’t understand how the same emotion (pride) could make me feel so badly now when it used to make me feel so good. And I blamed Will for warping me into a sinful creature.
I don’t know what I could have done differently. It seems as if it were scripted to happen that way. It seems that I directed myself to fall, and I did. Or maybe, like in the story, he directed me to fall but hadn’t intended on me falling so far as to become unusable.
But now their path was dark. Neither could see where the path had gone. They stumbled about, falling hard on their faces more than once.
“Dammit,” Greed said, “turn on your light! I cannot see anything and we are hurting!”
“What light?” Pride asked. “You said you would protect me! You said that you would save me! I know nothing of the ways of this world, dear husband. I do not have a light.”