With the gentle rocking motion of the school bus persuading me from side to side, I began to visualize my schedule in my mind. Staring into the cloudless blue sky lit by the late afternoon sun, I planned to complete my homework the moment I got home, finish my remaining chores, and continue to work on my college applications. The slight clanking of the two flute cases clutched in my arms reminded me to leave some time to practice my instrument. After thanking the bus driver for the ride as I always did, I stepped out and began to walk home thinking that I had a busy night ahead of me and I needed to manage my time well. Continuing along the sidewalk and around the corner, I began to receive the beauty of the day. There was a clear sky above allowing the trees to gently sway in full color and inviting the birds to share their vocal talents. Gentle, warm whiffs of air brushed past my face and played with my long hair a bit as I continued my trek.

All of a sudden, a boisterous noise interrupted the calming sounds and echoed through the neighborhood. There was a crashing bang that caused me to jump and glance behind me. I spotted nothing unusual at first, finding teenagers walking home further down the street, neighbors of mine that had been sitting on the same bus just moments earlier, but then I spotted one of my classmates holding a metal baseball bat over his shoulder. A scowl crossed my face before I turned around once more and continued walking. Just then another deafening bang echoed past me. This time I turned and watched as a girl passed the metal object to a different teenager allowing him to take two more swings at a large, wooden sign that rested near the entrance of the housing division we all called home. What were they thinking?! Frantic thoughts rushed through my mind as I tried to make sense of what I had just witnessed. Laughs and giggles passed through the swarm of teenagers, as they took final, satisfied glances at the new dents and hole formed in the sign before resuming their walks home. As I, too, returned to my routine, I could not banish confused thoughts from my mind. How could they destroy something in their own neighborhood? Why would they rather vandalize their community than contribute to it? I could not comprehend the unusual behavior and could not understand why they had chosen to act in such a destructive and pointless matter. Where was their pride?

It is common for people to focus time and energy on issues in the world. Some try to clean the litter from the Earth while others strive to prevent vandalism from destroying their communities. Organizations are founded to combat against illness and disease and programs are created to help students achieve their goals and meet expectations. I, however, devote my attention to the root of these concerns, the seed that nourishes these tangled weeds. The world lacks the quality that drives our actions and gives our lives meaning. The world lacks an important trait that leads to improvement and success. The world lacks pride.

Actions need support and reason, and pride delivers these, a burning fiery passion that powers the hearts of many. Pride drives people to stand up for what they believe in, continue working hard, and better themselves to honor the previously established. It is this love that continues to feed human development and builds upon legacy and tradition. Without pride in one’s history, heritage, and homeland, one is left alone. There is no past to guide him, no companions to help him, and no home to cradle him. He is left to thrive in solitude and live his life with nothing.

Especially in the youth of the nation, pride must be installed. Children, teenagers, adults, and seniors can all benefit. No matter how insignificant it may seem and no matter how small the pride may begin to flicker, may it be self-confidence, school spirit, family honor, company loyalty, or nationalism, good will follow.

If the nation came together as a whole, each citizen displaying citizenship and pride in his country, America would rise as a role model and a shining symbol of hope and achievement. Other countries would envy our creation and strive to become as successful, in turn, improving the world. World hunger, disease, war, and conservation would be granted greater attention and problems would diminish. Few conflicts would exist if each person shared the goal of creating a successful and unified planet.

An occupation is an important life choice and everyone should honor his decision and feel blessed to have the opportunity to work for a living. Employees should grant their employers, managers, and companies respect and loyalty. With a staff of dedicated, devoted, and hard-working employees filled with pride and determination, a company can succeed and add to the community, the nation, and the world. Goals are no longer centralized on trivial local disputes but are turned to matters of greater importance. With a group of proud workers, a company can succeed.

Success does not always involve money, business, and work. A functional, loving family tops the goals of many people, and can prove difficult to obtain. Families must be honorable, respectful, thankful, and gracious of each other and have pride in the tree that has been growing and flourishing for years. Each member is a fruit harvested from the same tree and possesses the ability to aid the family, contribute to it, and help the tree develop and endure. With pride delivering much-needed sunlight to this awe-inspiring tree, a family can prosper.

Every school strives to ignite school spirit in each of its students, encouraging improvement and success. A school becomes a unified environment that welcomes students and brings them together when they all share the same love, passion, and home. Pride can be channeled through a sports team, a faculty, organizations, architecture, grades, assignments, and activities such as band, choir, orchestra, dance, cheerleading, and pep squad. When a school emanates spirit, a sports team is driven to practice hard, score, and win; a teacher is inspired to help his pupils learn and reach their full potential; organizations are encouraged to develop and enhance the school; and most importantly, students are allowed to learn, discover, achieve, and succeed. Students will no longer wish to vandalize or damage school property because they view the property as their own and take pride in it. Graduation rates would increase, dropout rates would decrease, and the population would benefit as a more intelligent and more prosperous generation. With students humming the school song and wearing school colors, they encourage and support each other to improve the school and improve themselves.

One of the most difficult forms of pride to attain is self-confidence, pride in one’s self. Each person’s ultimate goal in life should be to obtain self-confidence and to take pride in his decisions and actions. Once a person is content with his self and has become as successful as he can, he can enjoy his life and know he has truly accomplished something. Pride in one’s school, family, job, and nation cannot develop until one has pride in himself, so every person should endeavor to better himself and achieve his ambitions. By setting goals, forming schedules, and completing work, life is given a new purpose. Guilt no longer dwells and regrets no longer exist, allowing happiness and the feeling of accomplishment to settle in. There is something to look forward to, something to struggle for, and something to take pride in.

Unfortunately, not everyone possesses this sense of self-confidence. Not all schools foster school spirit, not every family lives harmoniously and in respect of each other, not every corporation is able to succeed with a staff of devoted employees, and not every nation can come together as a symbol of accomplishment. Before we can resolve world crises we must first light the fire within us all and consider how we can first better ourselves. If the teenagers I had witnessed vandalizing a neighborhood sign had developed pride within their community, their school, and their selves, perhaps they would not have chosen to act in such a violent manner. Perhaps they would have chosen to contribute to their community rather than destroy it, perhaps they would have chosen to build a sign rather than demolish one. Pride is the fire that powers each action and the seed that nourishes each decision, an important quality needed to achieve goals and reach prosperity, a valued trait rarely found in people that must be established to improve our world, and an incredibly powerful force that can bring about improvement, encourage enhancement, and achieve greatness.

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