You probably thought you were just as good as anybody else, regardless of who you are. Everybody is really equal, right? Everybody believes that. If you’re a Christian of some kind, you may believe that while people in this life are unequal in various ways, everyone is equal before God. Or you may believe that because of original sin, everyone is equally evil before God.
Bruce Charlton talks about how the Church of England has been “hollowed out” like all other institutions in leftist England. This is the inevitable result of the idea of equality, which while heavily promoted by people who are not even nominal Christians, is an idea of modern liberal Christianity. This results in “easy-believism” and “get out of jail free card” Christianity in which former criminals and drug addicts get to look down on well-behaved people who don’t go to their churches.
The truth is people are not equal. People are different, some better in some ways and some in others, some worse in some ways and some in others. OK, you will admit to that, but isn’t everyone equal before God? Obviously not. Some people are particularly good, and some particularly bad. All people have sin, but it varies widely in type and degree.
“Pride” is the feeling or belief you are superior in some way. “Hubris” is a Greek word that was used to describe some especially bad crimes that resulted from excessive or inappropriate pride, such as aggravated assault or rape. “Nemesis” was the god that punished hubris, which has come to mean simply excessive pride, arrogance or the behavior that results from this. “Humility” is the belief you are not superior. “Modesty”, in its older English meaning, is not being arrogant or boastful about the ways you are superior.
All these are very important concepts. Modern society is based on the idea that everyone should feel good about themselves, even if there is objective reason for them not to. This has been a disaster, as great masses of people have or need to convince themselves they are wonderful, when they know they aren’t. It’s a great boon for sociopaths, who don’t even need to pretend to be humble, and can turn up the charm to an 11.
Modern liberal Christianity is based on the idea that since everyone has original sin, all are equally bad, and no one can judge anyone else or feel superior to anyone else- unless it is a Christian looking down on a non-Christian, or someone they judge not to be a real Christian- usually a traditionalist Christian of some kind.
Pride was the basic value of pagan civilizations. If you were a great warrior, or champion athlete, or rich you were proud of yourself. If you were poor or a slave you were ashamed of yourself. The very special were like junior gods, and could even become gods on death. Some people let this go to their heads and decided they were actually gods while they were alive- the Roman emperors Nero and Diocletian I believe. Pride leads to a lot of fighting over who is the best, within and between societies.
In Christianity- and as far as I know Judaism, since it comes from the Old Testament- the ultimate example of pride is Lucifer, the highest of the angels, who was really proud of himself. So proud, he thought he would replace God. That’s way too much self-esteem, I think even Nathaniel Branden would agree. (Although not Ayn Rand- her heroes were very pagan in that they became godlike through their achievements.)
Ancient Hebrew society was based on the idea that God- one all-powerful, all-knowing, all-creating God- ruled over all, all of whom had the same duty to obey and worship him. People were obviously not equal, but having higher social status did not allow you to act with impunity, as it did under Roman rule. The poor, slaves, hired workers, and children were expected to be respectful and obedient, but the rich, parents, and slave owners were obligate to treat their charges decently.
I think the problem that the ancient Hebrews had was that they were surrounded by pagan societies based on pride, and this was continually infecting them. Eventually they were conquered by the Greeks, and faced with the total demise of their religion and culture- which then as now couldn’t really be separated.
The response was to create a religion based on pride, of being better than the dirty pagans that surrounded them by ritualistically observing various customs of cleanliness, dress and observance. If you were an affluent urban dweller, this would be a possible lifestyle option, maybe even a good one in terms of social and business connections- much like modern Calvinism. If you were a poor rural person, it would be difficult or impossible to do this, and you would come to hate and resent the moralists who told you you were dirty and not good enough, which would be understandable, but possibly even the worship of God and God himself, which would be a terrible tragedy.
I was humiliated as a child with false religion and it took me many years and a few special people to get over this. Many, probably even most don’t, which is why I think Jesus hated the Pharisees so much.
Modern society is based on minimizing sin, giving people a false sense everything is OK, and elevating people who believe they get to tell us what’s right and wrong. These are both forms of false pride, which unlike the real thing doesn’t even have any earthly appeal.