Accomplishments and Luck

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Dear Friends: I have long understood pride as the deadliest sin of seven. I also know that it can be appropriate. Pride is sinful only in the sense of an overweening self-glorification. It characterizes someone who behaves as though he is convinced he is worth more than other people.

Self-respect, on the other hand, is not sinful. To the contrary, it is a needful strength and virtue. I think, for example, I have earned the right to feel pride in my own achievements, though they are neither widely known to others nor appear exceptional to the world. Way back when I was young, I had four children within six years, while getting a PhD, while teaching in a university, while managing an apartment building and its furnace, cleaning its stairs and halls, while doing all the housewife and mother jobs – cooking, laundering, cleaning – while my husband was often away on field trips as a geophysicist. I respect my achievement. It’s my own.

Then there is a pride I take in my life for lucky facts that I can’t help – they just happened. First, I take a helpless pride in the primary fact that I was born a citizen of this country. Secondly, and personally, I am proud of my family heritage. My maternal grandfather was a physician in the United States Navy; my staunch maternal grandmother was born into an early American family from Nantucket. My paternal grandfather was a well-off Quaker horse-feed farmer until he lost a fortune as cars became the universal mode of transport. He refused bankruptcy. He became a builder and paid back all his creditors. My paternal grandmother, who looks so delicate in the photo I have of the Hoges, raised seven children. I’m very proud of them – that is, I feel loving respect.

I’m also glad to have become a Quaker, like my father’s family, even though I was raised Episcopal, like my mother’s family. My mother, who went through eighth grade, was nevertheless said by her many friends to be the best-educated woman in our city, and I’m proud of that.

I am also (undeservedly) proud that my daughter Kate’s sons are half-Chinese and are fluent in English and Hawaiian, and I'm proud of my son John’s bright children. God bless them. Being of bi-racial families, they’re helping the whole world to move in the right direction.

– Phyllis Hoge, Albuquerque Monthly Meeting (IMYM)