Pride is after all, one of the Seven Deadly Sins. All our young lives we've been trained in our Judea/Christian up bringing, that pride comes before the fall; pride is at the bottom of all big mistakes; and, that pride makes us artificial. Is it any wonder we have difficulty wearing pride?
This morning for example, a co-worker said I looked, "pretty". I am just a few months short of my 60th birthday. My youthful attractiveness has faded; replaced by the strange unfamiliar face of an old lady. However, I had paid particular attention to dressing today. I have a presentation later and I want to look nice. So I fluffed my hair a bit, put on a new shirt and jacket, and slipped on my wine colored winged-tip orthopedic shoes instead of tennis shoes, my most used footwear.
My first reaction was to throw her "pretty" comment aside. (I'm not pretty!) As soon as I heard it, I wanted to squash it. But then, the other side of my brain spoke to her instead. I chirped, "Thank you! It was just the look I was going for." And immediately, I felt prettier. It was a prideful thought, but certainly not a bad thing to have happen to me.
I've been thinking about and working on this pride thing for a while; especially Disability Pride.
Laura Hershey's poem has been probably one of the most helpful guides to building my own disability pride. It is titled, Get Proud by Practicing and it hits the nail on the head.
In part of her poem, she writes...
You can add your voice
All night to the voices
Of a hundred and fifty others
In a circle
Around a jailhouse
Where your brothers and sisters are being held
For blocking buses with no lifts,
Or you can be one of the ones
Inside the jailhouse,
Knowing of the circle outside.
You can speak your love
To a friend
You can find someone who will listen to you
Without judging you or doubting you or being
Afraid of you
And let you hear yourself perhaps
For the very first time.
These are all ways
Of getting proud.
None of them
Are easy, but all of them
Are possible. You can do all of these things,
Or just one of them again and again.
You get proud
She is saying by just doing something you have never done before builds pride. Laura tells us to do it with others; togetherness eases the doing and makes you proud. She is also political in her focus of disability pride. We need to think of ourselves a worthy of pride, that we are pretty, and funny, and smart, and valued. And we must see that in others too. Doing that means you will never be alone...
Who made you ashamed,
But you are the one
Who can make you proud.
Practice until you get proud, and once you are proud,
Keep practicing so you won’t forget.
You get proud
Those seven deadly sins; for sure, some are evil. But pride, I believe got a really bad rap. Pride in religious traditions means: excessive belief in one's own abilities, that interferes with the individual's recognition of the grace of God. The early church used the sins to teach subservience to their church and their God. Pride is an intellectual tool. If you used your intelligence to challenge the church, you were harder to control.
However, Disability Pride honors all of God's creation, does it not. As oppressed people we must develop a sense of pride to succeed, to have any a quality of life equal to the non disabled, to be able to love ourselves, others, and their accomplishments. If we do not feel pride in ourselves, our value, our people, our movement, there is no grace; and there is no movement.
You can read Laura's entire poem here.
You can buy a copy of Pride against Prejudice at Amazon.com here