Sometimes we feel the need to prove ourselves in some way that is unnecessary... and hurtful to others. A husband or wife might put down the other in front of a friend or even a stranger. A child sometimes tries to avoid being seen with parents, because they “aren't cool enough.” A teenager carefully selects friends, overlooking those who don't measure up in some way. An employee at work chooses to spend time with the popular co-workers, ignoring the ones outside their social circle. In all of these cases, there is a common thread: we try to enhance our own appearance or reputation... at others' expense. And all of it is completely unnecessary.
Is it important to maintain a certain social status? No; in spite of everything we are told in advertisements and in our culture itself, this doesn't matter. We could spend our entire lives trying to follow all the fads and everything that's “in.” But when we come to the end of our lives, it will not matter how “cool” we were. We will not remember all the smooth things we said or all the times we easily went along with our culture's social norms. Instead, we will think about missed opportunities: times we could have shown kindness to a lonely person, or words we could have spoken to show love to our family. We finally realize that we should have “cracked the mold” more; we shouldn't have worried about our reputations so much. We should have risked rejection from our peers, in favor of reaching out to those who needed our help most.
Is it important to maintain a good reputation? Yes. But if we conduct ourselves with honor throughout each day, we have no need to spend time trying to improve our reputations. Our words and actions speak for themselves, and give other people a fair idea of the kind of people we are. If we think we can improve our reputations by pretending that we are better than other people, we will inevitably fail. If we think that we can get somewhere by putting down other people, we are mistaken. We can try to save face, but we end up showing ourselves for who we really are. We should ask ourselves: Is this face worth saving... or is it a facade in need of renovation?