Perspectives: Vanity ~ Vanity and Humility versus Pride and Modesty
The idea behind this series called Perspectives is explained in a hub published by MickeySr:
- Perspectives: An Introduction
What we think and how we feel about things is defined, not by the things themselves, but by our perspective of things. Everything that comes before us is filtered through our perception of things...
Oh Lord, it's Hard to be Humble!
Knowing your True Self
- Do you know your SELF (and the angels and devils on ...
Are you one of those who allow devils and angels to argue on your shoulders? Do you allow one of them to make up your mind? Or are you no longer in this phase, but still use the metaphor when you try to explain the difference between right and...
When vanity was pronounced as the second topic in our series called Perspectives, I had to consult a dictionary to confirm my comprehension of the word. Our Afrikaans word for vanity is ydelheid, in Dutch, the mother-language of Afrikaans, with a different spelling, ijdelheid. The word originates from the Latin word superbia, the unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem personified as one of the deadly sins.
VANITY is -
· The excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others (Stephen LaMarche);
· An obsession with one's appearance;
· Unjustified boasting.
Synonyms for Vanity are egotism,complacency,vainglory,ostentation.
An antonym for Vanity is Humility – the lack of self-pride.
According to wikipedia in many religions vanity is a form of self-idolatry - sins committed by Lucifer and Narcissus. In Christianity vanity is the first of the ‘seven deadly sins’ and the root of all other deadly sins.
Unjustified Boasting or Self-Pride?
Before I can analyze my own state of vanity, I have to analyze my state of Pride – the pride I have in myself and all that I have accomplished.
Self-Pride is -
- An inwardly directed emotion;
- A complex secondary emotion which requires the development of a sense of self and the mastery of relevant conceptual distinctions.
Of course we should be proud of ourselves. The mere fact that our existence was enabled by a diminutive, gumptious sperm, beating a million other sperms, should make us proud of ourselves. The privilege we have to be alive on this beautiful planet Earth should make us proud.
But words are misleading and our interpretation of words determines our concept of right and wrong. Christians have chosen the word ‘pride’ instead of ‘vanity’ as the correct translation of the Latin word ‘superbia’, which is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins.
So for the sake of my reasoning, let's consider EXCESSIVE and UNJUSTIFIED pride is Vanity and look at another word - Humility, which is the opposite of Vanity and also the opposite of Pride.
Could we say that there is in fact a very thin line between Vanity and Pride?
Humility, the opposite of Vanity and Pride
Personally I regard Humility on the same unbearable level as Vanity. According to dictionaries "humility" comes from the Latin word humilitas, which may be translated as "humble", but also as "grounded", "from the earth", or "low", since it derives in turns from humus (earth).
Therefor I distinguish between Humility (Humbleness) and Modesty, and regard Humility in myself and others just as unbearable as Vanity.
WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE IF NOT VAIN OR AS HUMBLE AS SOIL?
We are human
Because we are human, we are born with an urge to be our unique True-Self. Not different as the rest of mankind, but quintessentially the individual we are born to be. We have an instinctive need to accomplish the goals set by our True-Self. Although instinctive goals are simply to survive and multiply, the criteria determining our success was/is/are to be set and maintained collectively by mankind.
Human role models are the representatives of these criteria of success. Therefore we start at a very early age with the creation of a Self-Image – an idea of who and what we would like to become. This is not only a one-time creation, but an ongoing creation. If we fail to find the perfect balance between Vanity and Humility we will certainly end up being vain or humble as dirt.
Be Proud and Modest
We have already realized that we should be proud. Proud of ourselves and our achievements. If we are not yet, we ought to accomplish some achievements we can pride ourselves on.
I see Modesty as the only prevention of Vanity and Humility and I like to define Modesty as free from pomp or affectation.
My Personal struggle with Vanity
I share one of my personal experiences as example of the development of Pride and Modesty versus Vanity and Humility -
I was born with club feet that was rectified with treatment and operations. By the time I was two years old I was able to walk and run like any normal person. But as I grew up I realized that I did not have the beautiful calves, ankles and feet of the role models presented by mankind. My True-Self was therefore not able to build a Self-Image with legs that comply with the set criterion.
Being a child without wisdom, totally subjective to the criteria set by mankind, I secretly developed an inferior complex in this field. Secretly, because my Christian parents would have accused me of vanity, ungratefulness AND coveting the legs of my peers. They were in fact accused of vanity by their parents; according to my Christian grandparents it was God's will for me to be physically disabled. This was quite a family drama. I was even named Rina - derived from my maternal grandmother's SECOND name, Catherina. I was one year old when my grandmother demanded the altering to Martie. "Handicapped or not, she is a gift of God worthy of my first name," was her words, (By the way, years later she accepted her second and third names as worthy enough to be given to her grandchildren.)
Suppose my parents, or any other person, or even my ‘brilliant’ mind – managed to convince me that I was in fact the only person in this world with perfect legs, I could have developed a superior complex. The same could have happened if my loving parents and/or ‘brilliant’ mind had presented any of my other positive attributes as a distraction from my legs.
Complexes are the cradles of characteristics. Traits like Vanity, Humility, Pride and Modesty are born in the complexes of the human soul from where they develop into either attractive or detestable characteristics.
I do believe PRIDE and not VANITY made me - and still makes me - hide my legs in boots or trousers or maxi-length dresses. If it was vanity, I would have spent a lot of money on plastic surgery. And what if I had the money? Why shouldn't I spent it in order to feel more proud of myself?
Modesty urges us to spend money on necessities we need in order to survive. Modesty urges us to rather give our extra money to those who struggle to survive, whether they are people or animals.
Each and everyone of us knows if we are vain or proud, humble (as soil) or modest.
- Club feet – thanks to medical science clubfeet is ...
Thanks to medical science my feet were straightened while I was a baby. I grew up with only the knowledge that crawling on my knees or walking on my ankles could have been my lot..
Vanity is a form of self-defence
It is NOT easy to accept our own shortcomings. Vanity is a form of self-defense and most, if not all people, commit vanity until they finally reach the stage where they accept themselves just the way they are.
But let's see if all deadly sins are really rooted in Vanity....
The Seven Deadly Sins
According to the Roman Catholic Church who had based the concept of the seven deadly sins on the works of the 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus, every deadly sin also has a virtue. (Latin words in brackets)
- Lust (Luxuria) versus Chastity (Castitas);
- Gluttony (Gula) versus Temperance (Temperantia);
- Greed (Avaritia) versus Charity (Caritas);
- Sloth (Acedia) versus Diligence (Industria);
- Wrath (Ira) versus Patience (Patientia);
- Envy (Invidia) versus Kindness (Humanitas);
- Pride (Superbia) versus Humility (Humilitas).
QUESTION: Is Pride, or rather Vanity - in other words, the desire to be more important or attractive than others - really the most serious sin, or rather bad human characteristic causing all the other bad characteristics and therefore the source of all misery on Earth?
I am sure that answers listed for this question will be as many as the angels dancing on the head of a pin.
Vanity, or call it Pride if you wish, is a normal human characteristic. Controlling it in such a way that we don't bereave others from the privilege to be proud of themselves, is the challenge to be met.
Perspectives: September 2012 on 'Happiness'
Perspectives: October 2012 on 'Vanity'
- Gypsy Rose Lee ~ Perspectives: Vanity – The Mirror Image
- MickeySr ~ Perspectives: Vanity ~ The Romance Of The Vain
- Bravewarrior ~ Perspectives: Vanity - Does It Have a Shelf Life?
Vanity can sometimes get in the way of your true perspective on life. However, vanity does have its place. Vanity, or love for oneself can be the driving force behind reaching towards your dreams and being the best person you can be. The key is to no
- Marcoujor ~ Perspectives: Vanity ~ Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Vanity is defined as taking great pride in one's appearance and accomplishments. A synonym for vanity is conceit. In Latin, the word vanity is translated to irritum. The mythological story of Narcissus is a perfect metaphor for vanity.
- Docmo ~ Perspectives: Vanity ~ Omnia Vanitas
At first I was meaningless. Then I became everything. I grow from the plumage of peacocks, from the songs of the nightingale, the dance of the birds of paradise, the mane of a lion. I live on the bright rainbow petals of flowers, their delicate scent