If there are 201 nations worldwide how can we all be proud of our nations. What is the point in having pride in your nation? Is it because it feels good?

Suppose that 201 groups of people each set themselves a noble goal. If I were a member of a group that achieved its goal, I might well be proud of my group. If that pride is reasonable (and it might well be) I'd still have the same reason to be proud of my group if other groups—even all of them—achieved their goals too.

As for the point of pride, I might indulge in feelings of pride because it makes me feel good, but that probably gets things the wrong way around. Some things just make us feel proud. Pride makes most sense, perhaps, when what we're proud of is something that we deserve some credit for, but we also sometimes feel proud when someone that we're associated with accomplishes something. Suppose my friend works hard on a book and it wins an award. I might very well feel proud of her, and that doesn't have to mean that I'm trying to take some of the credit for what she accomplished. We might ask what the point is in this feeling of pride, but the question seems beside the point. My friend did well; feeling proud of her seems a natural reaction.

Pride in one's friends might also serve a social function. It might, for example, strengthen bonds between people and help others feel motivated to do well. But feeling appropriately proud of my friend doesn't have to be motivated by any such considerations. Indeed, if I had to gin up my feeling of pride by thinking of the good consequences it might lead to, it's not clear that the word "pride" would really fit.

All this said, national pride is a funny thing. People tend to be proud of their countries, and even if there's nothing inconsistent in members of every nation feeling national pride, consistency isn't enough to give us reasonableness. After all, if it can make sense to be proud of one's country, it can also make sense to be ashamed. And in some cases, shame might be the more reasonable sentiment.

It's an empirical question, but I'd hazard a guess that a country with very low levels of national pride might not be a very successful one. A country whose citizens are proud might also be a country whose citizens are more willing to participate in civic life and to make sacrifices for important goals. If that's true, national pride would serve a larger function than simply making the people who feel proud feel good. But national pride, especially the kind that sees one's country as special or unique, can also be a dangerous thing. Whatever good national pride may sometimes serve, the capacity for thinking hard and critically about what one's country does on one's behalf is surely at least as important.

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