Pride, integrity, and self-respect are qualities that have nothing to do with one’s intelligence quotient. I have seen simple men act with the virtue of lions and by the same token I have witnessed those of exceptional intelligence behave little better than slugs squirming in the slime. The latter condone their behavior under the sobriquet of social etiquette, impelled as they are by the need to go along to get along. But look closely and you will note with what great cunning they choose their lieges. These are the same people who will regularly express outrage on a variety of subjects…as long as those subjects are sufficiently distanced from their immediate circle of intimates. Self-righteousness is convenient when the object of your ire has no bearing on your personal relations or estimation within that circle; but if the vile influence of that object perchance emanates from the center of that circle, then that same outrage tucks its tail between its legs and changes into subservience.
It is a repulsive spectacle. To the proud and sensitive man, it immediately indicates that further engagement with such forms of life on any level is futile, that the only possible counter to such hypocrisy lies in it being crushed under the heel of the boot. But the rules of civilized society prevent us from pursuing this course of action, and therefore we view an agonizingly latent indifference as our only alternative. Sometimes, out of naivete, we ascribe pride to a person that eventually proves undeserving of such faith, and it is then that we realize a basic truism: pride cannot be learned through persuasion or command.
This pride I speak of is constituted in the essence of a person. It is very different from the pride one has in their work or the achievements of their kin. External factors matter little to it; instead, it is a soliloquy with the self. The lay term for this might be conscience, but even that doesn’t do it justice, because this kind of pride is not a mere moral agency; there is nothing of the right or wrong about it, nor is it a universally mandated code of conduct. It is molded, like so many other facets of life, by the deportment of those under whose aegis we live out our formative years; but ultimately pride comes into its own only through the willing embrace of the introversion that rests inside the individual’s soul. From this arises the ability to truly observe and introspect, upon the actions of others or those of our own, and the motives governing them. These actions don’t exist in a vacuum; they always strike a chord, jarring or pleasant. Pride develops when we remain attuned to those notes and the reactions they elicit in us.