Often, we tend to know our friends, neighbors, our relatives better than we know ourselves. We can enumerate all their faults and scandals but hardly conscious of any single fault of our own and this is because we feel that we are without faults. Thus, we tend to set ourselves above others, flaunting what we know or using our position to make ourselves superiors. I think all this behavior stems from pride.
The oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary defines pride as “the feeling of pleasure or satisfaction that one gets when people who are closer to him or her have done something well or owns something that attracts the admiration of others”. However, I would say that this definition does not really cover the behavior of proud people we know nowadays. The behaviour exhibited by proud people nowadays shows jealousy, hatred and other wickedness towards people whom they fell are getting on in life and this behavior may go a long way to diminish their social status. They usually have no time to think about the needs of others. The questions they keep on asking themselves are: ‘how can I use this fact to satisfy my ego? What will I do to induce people to admire me? There is no single element of humility in such people and their main aim is to use their knowledge for their own selfish ends. Pride, being a vice, impedes educational progress. I would like to enumerate some of the ways in which pride impedes our education and suggest some practical means that might help us attain humility; the virtue that could subsequently help us gain knowledge.
The fact of “Plagiarism” that is commonly found in our universities, seminaries, teacher training colleges, polytechnics, and secondary schools is rooted solely in pride. It is because we fell so much the need to learn from other people and at the same time are lazy and unable to learn on our own that we end up copying the ideas and works of other people. Copying and acknowledging the sources of our material is not an academic crime. But the fact is that the proud person does not like to acknowledge the sources of his or her material because that would mean that he or she is not intelligent enough to produce material on his or her own. It is when we accept our weakness and are willing to learn from others that we will excel in our education.
Intellectual pride, in general, reduces the rate at which we learn. This is because with intellectual pride we are usually preoccupied with ourselves, pretending to possess a vast knowledge which we actually do not have. Developing an interest in learning, changing and growing are the surest ways to excel in education. And the ability to do this requires that we unmask our faces and accept our true personality. Pretending to be what we are not does not really help us at all. It only appears to make us superior, intelligent and people without weakness in the eyes of others. I think nobody is perfect. Nobody usually knows the outcome of the actions of a proud person. When a proud person is asked about his or her academic performance, the usually answer is “my results are not bad” but whether they are good, very good, excellent or very bad nobody knows. The truth is only hidden from the public but cannot be hidden from the inner conscience. Our inner conscience judges us whenever we deviate from the truth. God on the other hand also acts according to our actions. If we admit that we are helpless and are in desperate need for help he comes to our aid. But if we pretend to be what God himself knows we are not, he leaves us in our pretend, and in the end we are losers.
One of the effective means of learning in our schools is the formation of study groups. Through study groups students share together what they have learnt and also new ideas are shared. Proud people on the other hand would not like to join these groups. Since they pretend to possess vast treasures of knowledge they would not see any benefit in joining these study groups. What they rather do is to stay behind and mock those in the study groups. Even if they join they do not contribute anything during discussions; they turn to be cynics and scoffers. It is not until we admit that we are ignorant that we can be healed from our ignorance, foreven Socrates the father of philosophy in the search for knowledge was referred to have said that what he knows is that he knows nothing. That is a sign of intellectual humility. Hence, I perfectly agree with him that the blame-worthy ignorance is to believe that one knows what one does not really know. People do not want to admit their ignorance simply because of pride.
To recapitulate briefly, knowledge cannot be attained if one does not admit with disarming honesty and humility that one is in need of knowledge. With humility we become aware of our human weaknesses, frailties or faults, and we recognize that we need all the help we can get from both God and our friends. Humility is nothing but the virtue that makes one to know the truth and pride is the vice which induces one to tell lies. Let us drive out this vice (pride), so that we can give way to good education and development in Africa.
Sheen, J. F., Way to inner peace, Mumbai: St, Paul Press Training School, 2008.
Cooper, J. and Hutchison, D. S. (Ed.), Plato complete works, Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Company, 1997.
Wehmeier, S. and Ashby, M. (Ed.) Oxford Advance learner’s Dictionary, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Written by: DANIEL S. KAMARA (Josephite of Murialdo) firstname.lastname@example.org/ +233558075371