Friday, April 15, 2005

Pride vs. Self-Esteem

Conservatives often attack the concept of "Self-Esteem," claiming that telling everyone "you're special" makes the word "special" meaningless.

For the most part, I think they're right. No one should feel bad about themselves for no reason--teaching self-esteem in terms of race, sex, and related issues is great but telling every kid that "you're the absolute bees' knees!" just creates delusion. I wish I could videotape some of the students who admit, "I'm not a very good writer and this isn't my best paper but I think I deserve better than a 'B.'"

What I don't think conservatives recognize is that the word "pride" functions the same way. Saying "I'm proud to be American" makes sense and might even spur the speaker into positive actions. What I've heard a lot lately is "I'm proud of the name 'Redskin.'"

None of the people I've heard this from are Indians (at least that I know of). One of Anderson's school colors is orange. Are people proud of orange? If a dye shortage caused orange uniforms to be more expensive would they object to changing to red?

Saying "I have good self-esteem about being black/Catholic/blind/female/Martian/etc." makes sense. Saying "I have good self-esteem about being the greatest person who ever lived" doesn't (unless you can back it up).

Saying "I'm proud to be an American" makes sense. "I'm proud of my high school sports mascot" does not (unless he dove into a river to save a drowning baby).

I've been told that I just don't understand but instead of trying to make me understand, the person I'm talking to either gets mad or refuses to comment. Could someone at least try to explain?

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