This time I’m going to rant about Honor.
Why is it that people seem to think that just because they don’t want to, they are not obligated to keep promises made? Why do they think that Honor is something that can be spat on with impunity? Why is honor used as a punchline?
Honor is your personal integrity. It is the ONLY measure of a man or a woman. It is the yardstick used to ensure that society functions. It is what keeps us from devolving into anarchy and “only the strong” kind of mentality. Culture is not what keeps us from barbarism, only Honor is.
Let me float a few scenarios to you. You find a bag of money and notice that it fell out of a woman’s purse while she was getting a pen out. You give it back. What does that make you? Trustworthy? A Good Samaritan? Honest? Each of those can be replaced by Honor and it still be correct.
If you kept that money, what would that make you? Mean? Dishonest? A bad person? What if you deposited it into your account while you watched her frantically looking through her purse for that money? Once again, each of those can be replaced by Honor.
You are in a fight, and you knock your opponent down. They are helpless before you. Do you kick them again? No? Why? It’s not fair? It’s not right? You simply don’t do that? Once again, that’s honor.
We live in a society that puts a lot of credit into the forms of honor, but which despises honor and personal responsibility itself. A lot of laws are enacted to enforce morality and honorable behavior, but when you talk about having personal honor and living up to that, you are laughed at. When you say it’s dishonorable to take advantage of a coworker, you are looked at like you have grown a new head on your shoulders. When you do not run around and tell everyone how great you are (refusing to brag and being humble), you are asked “why not”? When you try to explain why, most times you can’t without using words like Honor.
Honor permeates society. Not just ours, but EVERYONE’s. Honor is the glue that holds that society together. It is why everyone doesn’t go around and steal cars or take money from old ladies at the ATM, it’s why you pay the check before you leave and after a meal. It’s why you leave the tip on the table instead of pocketing it as you walk out. It is why you demand right behavior from others and it is why we act in the way we do.
Words have grown up and now get in the way of speaking. Words like “integrity”, “responsibility”, “chivalrous”, “polite”, “kind”, “generous” and many others have come to be to give shades of meaning to “Honor”, but the use of honor has fallen out of favor for the words which give that shading. So Honor as a word has become an anachronistic expression referring to the SCA or to knights in England.
Warf on Star Trek, The Next Generation was a beloved character, but everyone thought he was odd because he was so concerned with his Honor. He behaved according to a set of moral codes and ideals and rarely violated them, and he felt horribly guilty when he did violate them. But everyone (the viewers) and many of the cast of the show made some (backhanded) fun of him. He was thought of as “odd” because of that code. He lived it and I saw how he was treated at Star Trek Conventions, he was thought to be strange.
I could wish EVERYONE in the world had such a code and rigidly adhered to it. The world would be a MUCH better place.
The Samurai were seen as “sticks in the mud” or “tight-assed” because of their code of Bushido, which is the Code of the Warrior, their code of Honor. The Military is looked at as fanatics because they adhere to a code of honor. Many other groups out there, like the police, are hated because of their honorable behavior. But it is a necessary element in life.
What kind of a world would it be if we all just did whatever we wanted? No restrictions, no governors, nothing to keep us from feeling bad when we took that lollipop from that 2 year old. What would life be?
This would mean that I could shoot anyone in the head I wanted to. I could walk up to anyone who had something I wanted and simply take it. If they couldn’t take it back, then it was mine. People would die, I would be hurt, others would be maimed. What about the sociopath who was on the loose? He would be able to get away with anything he wanted simply because there would be no laws and no one to say “this is wrong”. Children could be raped in school simply because the teacher was horny. (Yes, graphic, but it’s what could happen.) Talk about slavery, anyone who wanted something from someone else and could keep them oppressed, could very easily.
But Honor prevents that. The laws of the Government are only really words in a book. They can’t make you do anything. They can’t force you to behave certain ways. All they can do is list out the punishments and consequences that are possible for betraying that rule. “Don’t do drugs” is nice, but when there is a laundry list of penalties to go along with it, you STILL have to make a personal decision not to do drugs. And there are those who choose to do drugs anyhow and when they are caught they pay the penalty. But the choice is dictated by your personal honor and integrity.
It’s Honor that keeps us behaving in a human manner.
So obeying the dictates of honor is a good thing. Don’t be so quick to dismiss that simply because you think it’s archaic.
And start behaving in an honorable fashion. The world will be a MUCH better place. Really.