I write this piece with the Filipino mentality as a backdrop, because the nuance of being a Filipino involves a pre-occupation with being modest and being proud.
In a world filled with narcissists who glorify themselves on Facebook with a barrage of a million self snapshots, selfies they call it, there is a big question on the over-all psychological health of an ordinary human living in this postmodern world. What is self-esteem and where is the healthy balance?
The question is of particular importance among Filipinos who find themselves living in a culture which glorifies humility and modesty and chastises pride and arrogance. So many times have children been taught by example by our culture to be modest with their accomplishments or ganged up by the crowd for being too full of self-praise.
I believe in the real value of humility and I recognize the treasure of a healthy self-esteem. Postmodernity has the tendency to bloat the self beyond all proportions with its ego-centric wave that too often we find young people who are too focused on themselves with a tad too strong a regard for their image. Yet, in our culture too can we find people who have either lost all respect for themselves or bathing in the light of false humility. Where can we find the balance?
The balance, in my opinion, rests on truth. Pride if taken in healthy doses is helpful in the formation of a positive self-image. Humility, on the other hand, is a virtue all too confused with having no pride at all. For in fact, humility and truth go together, and if truth offers you pride then it is the moment when both seemingly contradictory words go together to form a healthy self-image.
The recognition of one’s strength and value and an honest admittance of one’s limitations and failures helps in the formation of a sound uptake on the self. A truthful man is an honest man and in turn form for himself a positive and healthy self-esteem. Truth purifies self-glorification by reminding the ego of its incompleteness and insufficiency and it helps lift up the spirit with the hope and promise stored within each individual.
Our children and young people then must learn to see this balance. There can be no healthy self-esteem for any individual until the self prides and humbles itself with its truth.