Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

False Pride

On St. Patrick's day I read a headline that I found irritating. It said "Pride of the Green," then went on to describe the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City. It's an annual event attended by thousands.

I've never been to one of these get togethers. And I never colored anything green on St. Patrick's Day. Though I probably got drunk with an Irishman a  few times. But then I'd get drunk with anybody at one time - no matter who they were.

So why would I let something like this be irritating or bothersome? The reason is that certain kinds of pride creates problems.

And that kind of pride is pride in our race, our color, our sexual orientation - things like that.

In my mind this kind of pride creates divisions between those of different backgrounds and beliefs.

I don't believe that I - or anyone else - should take pride in something I had nothing to do with.

I once asked a guy who had a large tattoo that said "Brown Pride" why he put that on his chest. And he said because he was proud of being brown. And then I asked him how he became brown. And he looked at me like I was stupid and said that he was born that way. And when I told him that being born brown then was nothing to be proud of, but simply an accident of birth the conversation ended. And not too happily.

See, I'm not proud of being white - because that was an accident of birth. But I do take a certain pride in things I've accomplished. Things I had something to do with bringing about. I take pride in being sober 25 years. Of building several businesses. Of being able to help others change their lives.

Personally I don't believe in white, brown, black, yellow, gay or any of that kind of pride. Because it says I'm different from you. And the difference we perceive is that we're better than - or superior. Few talk of being ashamed of their heritage - it's generally a pride thing. And that's what separates us as human beings.

If you tell me you're proud of your Master's Degree. Your promotion at work. Of your child's grades in school I'm with you. Because you put something into that.  None of that was an accident - like the color or sexual orientation you were born with.

If we took some level of pride in how we bettered the world, that's something to be proud of. But it can be divisive to be proud because of something you had no control over.  All you're saying is I'm better than you.  And that's the foundation of a lot of violence and wars.

Take some pride in what you accomplish - not what you had nothing to do with.

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