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On Honor: A Repost and a Re-visitation

January 22, 2011

The following lines were written February 9th, of 2010, published in a Facebook note. I’d like to go back to what I wrote then and try to do a little justice to myself and my principles:

“Many of you know that I plan to enter into the military, and you’re probably thinking this is a discourse on my   willingness to sacrifice for the USA. But this isn’t about the U.S. Army. No, rather, this is about your life, your honor, and my honor.

Allow me to preface this by saying I don’t claim to have achieved perfection. Many times I am blinded by my own pride, shaken by weakness, or similarly incapacitated by my all-too-real human fallibility. Shit happens in this world, and we all step in it at some point.

But, like many others, I try my best. I hold myself to (for lack of a better, less colloquial, term) a strict code of honor. I never lie. Ever. “You’re brutally honest”, is I believe the way I was once described by someone extremely close to me. When I am committed to a relationship, I will never act unfaithfully, violating monoamory/monogamy. In whatever I do, I strive for my best–no matter how relatively good or bad my best is– and try to improve myself. I will not stand idly by as a witness to oppression, but neither will I mollycoddle the oppressed or the helpless; in the end, it is my duty to impart knowledge, inspire initiative, and develop strength, that they are no longer helpless and may free themselves from oppression. An insult to those close to me is an insult to me, but truth should never be punished. I will defend myself, but even more, I will defend my loved ones. This is both literal and figurative. I would be glad to spend my last breath knowing that I died in protection of the gift of their life (the value of life, part 2 of the ramblings… for some other time[which never did end up happening]).

And that, if I had to find one, is probably the core tenant in my code of honor. It is akin to the dying code of chivalry, but it is really the code of the Modern Human. It implies courteous behavior, strength of will, and principled, straightforward actions. It is the result of attempting to be a modern version of the Renaissance Man.

Why do I care? Because this world is losing its sense of honor. And, lacking honor, we lack many many things that allow our societies and especially our individuals to function and thrive. You all have lived, you know… life. I’m sure you’ve been fucked over at one or another time, because someone deceived you in some fashion. You probably did not enjoy that. As for me, I hate being lied to. I even hate the little lies, the half-truths, the white lies, the ones that people use in everyday life to keep parts of it from you. For me, if not for even a single one of you, the world would be better if we could all just speak exactly what we were thinking, exactly what we wanted to say. That’s why I speak frankly and honestly. Because maybe if I do, then juuuuuuuust perhaps some others will follow suit. And that would be great.

That’s one example. I don’t want to bore you, my very much appreciated Facebook friends who took the time to read all of this. Come up with your own examples. The point is, this world is lacking honor. No one’s word can be trusted, everyone is out for themselves, and the grasp of honesty and decency is slipping. Granted, morals are not nearly as aligned as they may once have been. But there are some commonalities that just about everyone can agree on, and we could all live by them. The problem stems from those of us thinking with their wallets, or their sex drives, or their fears.

My plea isn’t so complex. Return to honor. Introduce some simplicity back into the world. Lead happier, healthier lives. Or, at least, tell me why we shouldn’t.

As always, your comments are welcomed, and indeed asked for.”

Well, what do you think of my senior year discourse? A fiery and opinionated young man, wasn’t I? How crazy.

But if we’re using those guidelines, I’m positively insane now. Nothing I have done or seen or heard of or experienced in the almost-year since then has done anything to sway me from my views. If anything, I’ve become more entrenched in a few opinions.

  • Lying: whether a white lie or just a straight-up deception, does not endear you to me. Whether you are deceiving me for your own gain, to protect me from something, or to protect my feelings from what you have to say, you can stow it. Obviously if you’re lying for gain you probably won’t care about what I want, but in the other cases I can try to make it clear that: I just. Don’t. Want to hear it. It doesn’t make me feel any better, and in the end when I find out–and everybody is so surprised when they’re found out, it’s like an old TV special–I feel worse. I’m not weak, I’m not sensitive. Whatever you think is going to hurt me so badly will be worse if you delay telling me, or deceive me into thinking something else is true.
  • Loyalty: of all kinds is not only a praise-worthy trait, but a necessary one. Most people will take issue with this, but I am of the opinion that most people are unable to override their selfish tendencies to act in a loyal manner. Yes, you’ve dated the same man/woman for a month and haven’t taken anyone else out on a date. Bravo. But are your heart and mind in a place from which you can truly say that you are doing your best by not only your significant other, but by others close to you? This isn’t about whether you brought a peach cobbler to your neighbor when they moved in. This is about self-sacrifice, self-denial, and a certain amount of stoicism undertaken to benefit those about whom you care.
  • Principles: I believe Steve Pavlina put it best in his article, “How to Be a Man”, though in turn I think that living by your principles is something everyone should strive for. “A man who values individuals above his own integrity is a wretch, not a free thinker. A man knows he must commit to something greater than satisfying the needs of a few people[…]When others observe that the man is unyieldingly committed to his values and ideals, he gains their trust and respect, even when he cannot gain their direct support. The surest way for a man to lose the respect of others (as well as his self-respect) is to violate his own values. A man’s greatest reward is to live with integrity, and his greatest punishment is what he inflicts upon himself for placing anything above his integrity. Whenever the man sacrifices his integrity, he loses his freedom… and himself as well. He becomes an object of pity.” That’s a rather long block of text, but I think it’s poignancy makes the point with more skill than I possibly could. I’ll elaborate and say that there is nothing wrong with questioning your own principles. In fact, it is desirable to self-examine and determine what you wish to keep in your life and what no longer serves your purposes in terms of self-growth and fulfillment. However, when you have decided upon those principles which you wish to uphold, and then you must decide on them, and you must uphold them. By allowing yourself to take actions which do not uphold your highest standards, you not only disrespect others by giving them less than they deserve, but above all disrespect yourself by acting in a manner that is not your best.
  • Self-Examination: According to the Professor that was teaching my course on Critical Reading, Writing, and Research, the highest act of maturity in writing is to analyze a work for its merits and weaknesses, and especially analyze one’s own work. When speaking of individuality and principles, the same applies to each and every person. Some of the greatest thinking for yourself and others is to analyze their actions in relation to your world view (without judgement, I might add, though we all often fail at this caveat), and even more so to analyze your own actions and thoughts. Why exactly do you believe what you believe? What makes you react a certain way to that stimulus? Are you taking for granted certain assumptions about your life, or do you truly know your own motivations? Of course, sometimes personal motivations are just as difficult to fathom as the motivations of others. But any attempt each person can make to self-analyze brings each of us farther along our paths of self-growth and fulfillment. It is infinitely less difficult to accomplish the tasks that need to be done, infinitely less difficult to sharpen our own abilities and skills, and infinitely less difficult to uphold our principles when we know just what it is we are trying to accomplish.

Yes, I have strong views and opinions. But those strong views and opinions are hard-won from the past seven years of examining who I am, what principles I wish to uphold and embody, and what I wish to accomplish both for myself and for others. I’ve found what I want to live for. Have you?

What are you living for? Do you know who you are? Have you taken up those traits and principles on your own, or did they come from someone/somewhere else? Do you like them? Have they ever changed?

As always, I’d love for you to leave comments, questions, thoughts, and requests for further blog topics! You’re wonderful, have a great day.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2011 2:58 pm

    Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

    • February 6, 2011 3:08 pm

      I’m glad to hear it! Even beyond that single article, the articles on http://www.stevepavlina.com are amazing tools and resources for self growth and lifestyle decisions. Do come back and read some more of the posts on this blog– the next actually is going to be on a concept that Steve presents; the use of overwhelming force in enforcing life decisions upon oneself.

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