“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”—Proverbs 16:18
There is one inarguable killer of men, businesses, and countries: Pride. We’re all guilty of it to some degree. After all, you don’t tell a stranger about your employer’s crappy benefits package when he asks what you do for a living. You tell him you’re “assistant office manager for a Fortune 500 company” when you are the receptionist.
All of us have a need to present a better self to the world than what we actually are. But when businesses and journalists start to believe their own self-hype, they have started down a path that ends in irrelevant obscurity.
In the business world, there is one goal: making money. Yes, the corporate charitable efforts are nice and some are certainly genuine. But if you think those efforts aren’t also intentional money-makers for a company that knows the public will warm to their brand, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
Businesses exist to make money. Period. So what causes them to inevitably stray from things that make them money? Pride.
Look at this number: $3,000,000,000. Billion with a “B.” That is the market cap Nike cost themselves when they made the fateful decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. They were down over 3 percent and dropping in the markets by midday after the commercial dropped.
Business people around the country are scratching their heads, and rightly so. After all, Nike is the company Michael Jordan launched into stardom. He famously said of his nonpolitical stance, “Republicans buy shoes, too.” Why would an athletic apparel company put itself firmly opposite of half the country? Pride.
Hollywood is another great example of an industry letting their self-importance get the best of them. Here are the top-grossing movies so far in 2018: “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” and “Deadpool 2.” What do all those movies have in common?
They are not all family movies. Some (“Deadpool”) are quite vulgar. What they have in common is they are easily consumable to Middle America. No subtle leftism lectures. No pitches for “I am woman, hear me roar” feminism. Just heroes and villains. Good guys and bad guys battling it out. Middle America is the difference between a movie that scrapes the bottom and a movie that rakes in millions.
Why would Hollywood abandon that model for the next film about a transsexual feminist fighting to stop people from eating meat? Pride.
The public views movies as an escape from reality. Movies are entertainment. My wife and sons and I want to be entertained. Nothing more. Another two-hour lecture on one of the tenets of leftism is the last thing anyone wants.
Yet they can’t help themselves. Hollywood looks in the mirror and doesn’t see an entertainer. Those days are gone. They look in the mirror and see someone who has a duty to advance the leftist cause. And their business is suffering for it.
Levi Strauss decided to follow Nike’s lead and dip its toes in the boiling leftist water. The famed jeans maker has announced it is partnering with the anti-Second Amendment group Everytown for Gun Safety to push Congress for anti-gun laws.
What on earth would prompt a jeans company to take a stance that will alienate half the country? Pride. I don’t know how one can go from selling Daisy Dukes to scolding Americans on what they should do with their firearms, but the phrase “delusions of grandeur” is probably not quite strong enough.
To see companies commit suicide by pride is bad enough, but the disease is even worse with people who talk politics for a living. Give a man a laptop computer, a media outlet to publish his work, and a 1995 picture of him and Jack Kemp sitting on his desk, and that man will inevitably think his penny loafers are the modern day toga of the Ancient Roman Senate.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a minor case of overconfidence. But when writing or speaking about politics for a living, it might be beneficial to check the pulse of the people now and again. Otherwise, you’re only writing for your friends. You might as well just put up a Facebook post.
It’s easy to point at Donald Trump’s cocky bluster and call it arrogance. But who is the arrogant one? Is it the New York billionaire who took the time to understand the concerns of forgotten Americans? Or is it the corporation heaping monetary losses on its stockholders because they refuse to step out of the Portland bubble? Or is it the D.C. writer who looks out his office window and convinces himself a skyline of white marble buildings means he’s one step away from power?
History is littered with the embarrassing tales of men who looked in the mirror and saw something more than a man. Today is tomorrow’s history. Our next generation will look back on the great leftist swing of the corporate world and wonder what they were thinking.
That generation will look at today’s political commentators who felt so above the American people, and shake their heads. Let us set aside our overinflated views of ourselves before the great monster of pride consumes us.