To avoid falling into confusion over the names these defects should be called, let’s take a universally recognized list of major human failings — The Seven Deadly Sins of pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. It is not by accident that pride heads the procession. For pride, leading to self-justification, and always spurred by conscious or unconscious fears, is the basic breeder of most human difficulties, the chief block to true progress. Pride lures us into making demands upon ourselves or upon others which cannot be met without perverting or misusing our God-given instincts. When the satisfaction of our instincts for sex, security, and society becomes the sole object of our lives, then pride steps in to justify our excesses.
Pride as a character defect interests me, and I (humbly) consider myself to be humble, as opposed to proud. I’m not inclined to think I do anything right, or well, and I’m much more comfortable in my pride in reverse character defect. To me pride has been twisted by backlash against discrimination, and many people seem to say we should be proud of our race or ethnicity, size or other characteristics we may or may not have had anything to do with creating. Then, too, say I do something well like grow a tomato plant. Should I be proud? I’m possibly lucky or skillful but really, so what? Any true accomplishments of mine, I feel like always need to be couched in my privilege. With my resources can’t anyone grow a wonderful tomato plant?
It’s beyond doubt to me that I should absolutely not be proud of my long sobriety. The credit does not go to me, and I feel that is does, I risk losing it.
I was at a meeting recently where we looked up the word “perverse” in relation to something in the Big Book. We found that it means persisting the wrong way. Here is the word again, in the fourth step.
Taking this paragraph, it seems to me that my fear (which I might like to label anxiety, but is fear) that I won’t have enough or be able to handle my existence (my house, my car, my medical bills) is coming from pride. I don’t feel self-justified, the way the text reads to me, though, since I know that I’m secure beyond what any person has any right to want or require, and I know that my fear is wrong, and that it’s perverse to persist in it.
And, believing in the program, I can’t help but hope that all this listing and confession will make it possible for God to remove it.