Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Pride

Being Buddhist, I'm usually very negatory regarding pride – but pride has its place.

An article in the New York Times today should be of interest to homeless people and their supporters and advocates. It's titled "When All You Have Left Is Your Pride."

The article tells us,
The fine art of keeping up appearances may seem shallow and deceitful, the very embodiment of denial. But many psychologists beg to differ.

To the extent that it sustains good habits and reflects personal pride, they say, this kind of play-acting can be an extremely effective social strategy, especially in uncertain times.
The article ends with these words:
Pride, in short, begets perseverance. All of which may explain why, when the repo man is at the door, people so often remind themselves that they still have theirs, and that it’s worth something. Because they do, and because it is.

However much pride may go before a fall, it may be far more useful after one.
Many homeless-help non-profits in Sacramento seem beset upon robbing us homeless of our pride. This morning, Loaves & Fishes does what it often does, it shut off its services without notice, preventing people from keeping their appearance up (if not 'keeping up appearances').

VOA's Overflow shelter has only two shower stalls [one for each gender] but no toiletries or towels. My experience, after ten to fourteen total days spent at the shelter, was that it was extremely rare for a man to use the stall. [Full disclosure: It is my current understanding that VOA intends to try to make their two stalls, for over 200 sheltered people, more usable.]

I am told that Union Gospel Mission intentionally doesn't make men in its main dorm too comfortable, in order to encourage the men to strive to upgrade their circumstance, which might include signing up for the mission's Rehab Program.

But the article instructs otherwise: that helping us keep our pride boosts perseverance – and thus keeps us in the struggle to upgrade our lives.



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