An Examination of Sins and Virtues: Pride

By Elliot Dorow Hovland

Elliot is a sophomore staff writer and, along with Kenny Kiratli, the co-creator and co-host of the Minnehaha Talon Podcast. Elliot plays on the soccer, hockey, and golf teams and is interested in engineering and the environment.

Posted: May 21, 2015

In Greek mythology, there is a story about an inventor and his son who are imprisoned on the island of Crete, within the Labyrinth, which they had helped to build.

To escape, Daedalus the father builds two pairs of wings, which he had cobbled together out of twine, feathers and wax.

After escaping from the labyrinth, they begin to fly over the ocean, where Daedalus warns his son to fly in the “Goldilocks zone,” a compromise Aristotle dubbed “the Golden Mean”. In other words, he shouldn’t fly too low, or the seawater would dampen and weigh down his wings, and he shouldn’t fly too high, lest the sun melt the wax in his wings.

However, Icarus becomes prideful and wants to fly higher, thinking that the bad things wouldn’t happen to him, but the sun melts his wings and he falls to his death in the sea.

This folly was the result of something that psychoanalysts today call an Icarus Complex, which manifests itself in a gap between lofty goals set by somebody and their ability to achieve them. The larger the gap, the less likely they are to succeed.

But as we grow up, we are told to take pride in what we do. Didn’t Icarus have pride? Icarus had hubris, a concept often brought up in Greek tragedies, and always in a negative sense. Hubris is an excessive or foolish amount of pride or confidence.

Excessive pride is what we, as we strive to embody Christian values, should try to avoid. However, we should also try to avoid a dearth of self-confidence. We need to find that goldilocks zone between self-doubt and pride, and that zone is self-confidence Pride is mentioned in the Bible 277 times (BBE version), and in a parable that Jesus told while at a Pharisee’s house, he says, “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” (NIV).

Most high school-aged children don’t attend many dinner parties, but there are modern equivalents to the situation postulated by Jesus. We should not be prideful and assume that we are the coolest kid on campus, because if we do so, we will be humbled.

So as we attempt to live as good Christians, renounce hubris and avoid an Icarus complex, we have to remember that it is OK to be confident and ambitious. But it is when that pride begins to cloud judgment and set up potentially dangerous situations that we need to be able to recognize the impending issue(s) and adjust our behavior accordingly.

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