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posted Sep 3, 2011, 4:52 PM by Eric Banks

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:18



Have you ever looked back and taken stock of your attitude over a period of several months, you know, done kind of an internal audit to see what’s been going on within?  For a while now, I’ve been looking within, noticing a change, a different mind-set that was…different...  There has been something unusual in the way I approached or viewed people and situations, a new / slightly skewed perspective, and while most that I interacted with probably didn’t even notice it, I felt this “difference” but couldn’t put my finger on it.  I didn’t like what I was feeling, and it was so very subtle, but at the same time, more than a little alarming.  For several reasons, it all became clear Monday morning; this difference, this attitude shift, was in fact, the ugliness of pride.  Pride is an interesting word.  To “take pride” in or be “filled with pride” in relation to your family, country, etc is a good thing, a great thing, but to be “full of pride” or “prideful”, well, that ain’t so good.


I noticed this attitude invading several aspects of my life…this pustulence has been gestating under the surface for sometime I’m afraid, but thankfully, I realized it and can do something about it, because, yeah, it’s true that pride will set you up for a big fat face-plant fall.  This pride was so subtle that I just didn’t realize what it was, but even if it remained internal for the most part, it is just as poisonous to the soul as out-and-out arrogance.  And even though I think I caught it in time, I still earned a bit of a smack-down in my monthly Monday night kumite training…  Ouch.


After the morning revelation of my pridefulness, I’d been thinking about it all day, and by the time I got to the dojo that evening, I was mentally and emotionally tired and I knew the night’s training was going to be a challenge.  And so it was.  It wasn’t physically difficult, but mentally—I just didn’t have “it”, could barely turn “it” on, and I couldn’t maintain “it”.  And it, or the lack of “it”, showed.  This felt like the opposite of the me from the previous session, and the exact reverse of what I’m working for.  Needless to say, I limped out after the class.  Humbling.  But this is good; this type of experience is essential for learning and growth, painful though it may be. 


Thomas Merton said, “Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”  If I truly desire to excel at our art, if I really want to live a real life that makes a real, positive and permanent difference, I gotta let go of pride and choose true humility, which, contrary to popular belief, is true strength.  When I was in high school I had a saying that I think it’s time to re-adopt: “Be humble, or get humbled.”  That’s so simple and so inescapably true.  It’s back to the simpler attitude for me.