The word “pride” conveys a great many meanings. Paul Sands of Baylor University writes that pride is a vice that indicates strong feelings for oneself. For others, pride is a virtue that connotes self-respect and self-confidence. Philosophers would say that one can feel proud without being proud. In other words, you can feel good about an accomplishment but not be consumed by self-importance. A parent feeling proud of a child’s accomplishment is understandable. Feeling pride as a sense of superiority is not okay. According to Sands, pride can be a key component of emotional maturity. He weighs the “wide spectrum of pride”. In his article, he discusses the interdependence and mutual concerns of successful communities. Salem demonstrated its interdependencies on March 11. A significantly strong cross-section of our community came together and expressed concern for mutual benefit.
The International Federation of Red Cross published a study outlining characteristics of strong communities. One of the identified characteristics is a capacity to identify problems, establish priorities, and act. The success of the school district’s recent bond vote exemplifies this characteristic. The Salem School Board realized that the district’s facilities required attention after more than fifty years of accommodating the community’s schoolchildren and public space needs. The schools were constructed long before current program requirements were considerations. The Board commissioned a facilities master plan and set to work renovating the schools. Only through a community of individuals coming together around a common purpose that we’ve been able to address the needs identified within that master plan.
The most recent vote required a coalition of support that involved parents and grandparents; the local business community, including the Chamber of Commerce; senior citizens and high school students; local media officials, and local government officials; as well as grass roots organizers who acted tirelessly in support of the project. This community wide effort, around a theme of Salem Pride, acted interdependently, and made something good happen for our town. It’s quite all right to feel a sense of gratification and satisfaction, even joy, at the idea of this successful effort on behalf of the entire community. All of these words are synonymous with pride.
The word “community” is defined as giving among each other. The best communities are not centered around individuals or individual efforts but on its citizens and group efforts. In the best communities, skills and resources are shared for common purposes. It’s not a few people giving a great deal but a great deal of people giving something. Our community has taken a big step forward around a common purpose and around a theme of Salem Pride. Now the school district has a responsibility to ensure that we fulfill our obligation to meet the trust extended to us. We will meet that expectation. The community has a responsibility to continue a sense of interdependence. The people of this town are its greatest asset, and its greatest asset will continue to make all the difference.