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For the Love of Pride

Cyril Feraan

“A being’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

1) Introduction
The preceding quote tells us many things of great importance. First, it explicitly states that pride will “bring him low”, that is, reduce such a being’s stature or position, referring to an arbitary being. Perhaps this is the most critical aspect of the line, that it refers to any given being; we are all affected by the calamity of pride. Pride is not inherently partial to any one being, or group of beings. It is universal in that no one can escape its wrath. Verily, one may make the argument that the genetics of a certain individual may make one more susceptible to engage in behaviors where pride manifests itself insidiously. Yet this does not affect the concept of pride itself. Even if one being is more liable to demonstrate his pride, all are afflicted by it to varying degrees.

To establish the second observation, we must first note the line uses an ancient poetic technique employed by early writers to establish a flow from one idea to the other. In contemporary society, we usually would consider this phrase a contrast, marked by the usage of the word “but” to establish an opposite idea. However, as an ancient proverb, though its context has been long lost, it should be much more proper to view it as poetic. Now, another fallacy of contemporary analysis. We also tend to consider poetry to be strictly “a set of phrases that rhyme in a certain pattern”. Yes, much of poetry is like this, yet this is simply the most evident of all forms of poetry, and has slowly become dominant as the semantical definition of “poetry” has slowly merged with “rhyming”. Therefore we can conclude that each half of the statement equally belongs with the other: it is one whole statement. That is to say, if a being’s pride will bring him low, then also the humble in spirit will retain honor. The two cannot be separated and should be considered as one entity.

2) What is pride?

It is here you ask, then, what exactly is pride? That is an excellent question.

To understand pride, we must go back to near the beginning of recorded history, countless millenia ago. As various galactic societies evolved separately, they developed distinctly similar trends. Evolution progressed as a process of natural selection; as most of us have learnt, species were able to slowly progress and develop as random mutations emerged in each ancestry line. These mutations were often harmful and the being in question would simply be disadvantaged and eliminated. But once in awhile, a beneficial mutation would taken place, effectively giving the being a genetic advantage over its counterparts. Therefore, soon the beings with this beneficial mutation would replace the ones with inferior traits; that is, they phased the old kind out over a period of several generations. At first thought, this may be considered to be a wildly inefficient process: yet we see that it was able to produce immensely complex lifeforms. It coincides with our understanding of the Force, too.

Why would life arise in the first place? Recently, some scientific research groups have thereorized that, indeed, the galaxy almost seems to be driven to evolve life. Life is an extremely important factor in our galaxy and it is as though all of the natural forces work together perfectly to eventually form life. After all, was it not that many species evolved, and not just an isolated one? Logic begins to dictate that it is not simply random, that there is a hidden force at work. Our Order knows this as the Force, and many other cultures have given names to this mysterious guiding force as well.

But I digress. When beings began to develop cognitive emotions and thoughts, growing into a true sense of sentience, it is thus theorized that pride was one of the most evident results of evolution; sentient brains had a natural competitive impulse. This may be exactly why we see it again and again, without exception.

Competition is the basis of pride. Pride, in its essence, arises when we feel some sort of self-satisfaction manifesting itself in a sense of superiority. By nature, sentients are comparative beings. When you master a lightsaber skill, for example, are you feeling happy because you wanted to master that skill, or are you happy because you consider yourself better for it? Let me explicate.

Pleasure in being praised is not pride. If a youngling performs well in a lesson and is praised for it, then it is perfectly alright for that youngling to feel pleasure in that he/she performed well and pleased the teacher. The true trouble, however, is when this youngling continues to think: “I have done so well, what a fine being I must be.” This sort of pride is always selfish.

3) Pride is a destructive behavior

I have previously made the assertion that pride is a “calamity”. Now it is easy for the sentient to condemn anything traditionally undesirable to society: murder, theft, dishonesty, sexual immorality, corruption, absence of business ethics, or similar things. Some of these things we may or may not do, and it is a separate discussion. I am not writing this to lecture you, the reader, on the relative merits of these. However, as addressed previously, the one constant is pride. We are all guility of pride. However, even if it is unavoidable, this does not make it acceptable. Indeed, one of the most dangerous thoughts that a sentient can have is: ‘This behavior is natural, I cannot help myself.’ I disagree wholeheartedly with this for one simple reason. We cannot blame evolution or any such thing for our misbehavior. We must accept full responsibility — are we not capable of this, are we not developed enough to make an effort to assume a degree of self-control? Consider it.

My point is this: Pride is a path to the Dark Side. For as it so happens, one submersed in evil is unlikely to recognize his or her own evil. Is it not that some of the greatest tyrants have considered their own actions as a service to the galaxy? One who is of the Dark Side, then, will become so corrupt that they cannot distinguish the morality of their own actions. But one who is of the Light, as they continue to do good, will become more and more attuned to both what is good and what is evil. This is the way of the Force. A being who makes a habit of smoking will smell the smoke less and less each day while breathing clean air less and less as the smoke affects and fills their lungs. But a being who has never smoked will instantly start coughing upon encountering a room full of smoke; when they return to clean air they will notice it with pleasure. This is the same distinction between servants of the Dark Side and the Light Side.

Often, we tell others not to care so much what others think; we tell them to focus on themselves. Yet, the prideful being becomes so blind to himself. He says “Why should I care for what that being believes, as though his opinion is worth something?” This is an unacceptable thought process. Once again, we see a clear difference between feeling good about something and an air of superiority. The former is healthy: maintaining a positive attitude is key. The latter is dangerous: there is nothing that makes us better or more valuable than other being.

4) A Jedi is a representative of the Order

A Jedi is more than himself. The Order is but a collection of individuals, but it is how these individuals collectively cooperate that makes the Order valuable. Each Jedi is merely a small weapon in a great arsenal, so to speak. If the Order carries a poor reputation, then it is not enable to have a positive influence in the galaxy. Therefore if we are to reflect positively on the Order itself, then it is better that we each act according to how we are called. If a part of the loaf is spoiled, who will want to eat any part of it?