In a group today, i noticed one participant wearing a badge saying ‘Pride in the NHS‘, our much loved and occasionally exasperated National Health Service. The NHS is a hot political potato, as well as a subject of division between different user groups. When i asked him about the badge, he explained his own journey: originally being a little wary of wearing it, but slowly feeling more of a groundswell of opinion until, at some point, he realised the pride outweighed the cost. Then he unpinned it from his lapel and gave it to me.
I’ll wear the badge tomorrow, at the conference session i’m delivering: as a gift and a statement. Because the thing about pride is that it’s transferrable and infectious.
In three weeks time or so, i’ll write my thousandth blog post, which will definitely be something that i’m proud of. But i’m also proud of individual posts i’ve written. I’m particularly proud of one of my books. I’m proud when my friends are successful, when other people succeed, even though there’s no tangible benefit to me. Pride is unusual: it can be invisible, it can evolve, it can be lost or grown, it can be transferred, but i doubt if it can be sold or bought.
Gangs engender pride, but so does the military, so it can’t have a moral aspect… except that we are proud when people do something good to others, and lose that pride (or have it dented) when we are betrayed. So it must operate by internal rules: both sides in a conflict can be proud.
When we fail to be proud, we feel we could do better, but maybe when we find our pride, we strive for more: to share and amplify it. Pride likes company, although it’s not afraid to stand up in a room by itself. We talk about the Gay Pride movement, or playing it Loud and Proud, both of which imply vocal agreement and amplification, but we can also be secretly proud: I’m very proud of what one of my friends is doing right now, but i won’t tell her, because she’ll laugh at me.
Surely we should strive to be proud of our work, or rediscover our pride if we have lost it? Pride is incredibly important, but almightily elusive.