Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tooting your own horn

The deadline for the awards program for the professional organization I'm involved in (ACE - Association for Communications Excellence) is coming up fast, and I've been asked to submit an entry to the awards program.

I've got a project that I think is appropriate for the awards program, but I always feel awkward "tooting my own horn" for awards programs and similar events. It just feels arrogant to be explaining why you should get the prize when you don't even know what the other entrants did.

This feeling had its genesis in an RPG game I played as a kid, I think. I still remember playing Ultima IV, where you had to investigate different virtues to become the "Avatar." One of the most interesting parts of this was how "Pride" was treated somewhat like the other virtues in the game like Valor, Sacrifice, and Compassion. Like the other measures of humanity in the game, Pride had a town devoted to it ("Pride destroyed Magincia!"), there was a mantra for it, etc.

But the game made the point that "Pride is not a virtue." Indeed, Pride's opposite - Humility - was the virtue. It made a compelling argument by explicitly contrasting the two in the game world. For some reason, that's always stuck with me, and I think about it almost every time I see the word "pride" being used as if it were a good thing.

For instance, I see a lot of "Power of Pride" bumper stickers nowadays, with a billowy American flag behind the words. I imagine these are supposed to be expressions of optimistic patriotism, but for me, they're a sad commentary on what led us into debacles like the Iraq war. We are a proud nation, and that's not really a good thing. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. And perhaps more concerning, "Pride comes before a fall."

I wonder if they sell "Power of Humilty" bumper stickers.

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