Resurrecting Honor

Once upon a time, honor mattered.  It was universal and vital for men to maintain their honor.  People were actually killed in an effort to defend it…though it’s not all bad.  Some killed by men defending their honor got hit musicals made about them, so there was an upside apparently.

Photo by torbakhopper
Photo by torbakhopper

Today, honor is just one of those things people don’t think much about.  A handful of people still do, but society as a whole seem to think of honor as a quaint relic of a bygone era.

Once people stopped holding their honor as sacred, the world began a nasty descent into what it has become today.  Men and women both view relationships, even marriage, as temporary arrangements and get married only for tax benefits or to be on one another’s insurance, nothing more.  So-called “protestors” initiate violence regularly.  Alleged leaders defend a would-be killer and excoriate the police officer who ended the threat.

Honor, for most people, is a thing of the past.

However, if enough people resurrect honor as an important thing, we can change that.  We can make honor matter again.

Doing so will require a few things from each of us, and don’t think this is like a switch you can flip and suddenly you’re the most honorable man imaginable.

No, it takes time and hard work, but the effect is real and it can trigger others to check themselves and to become honorable.  Here are a few things to keep in mind going forward.

Don’t Be Self-Righteous About It

One day, I was speaking with a group of men at my church and we were talking about the perception of Christianity.  One of the biggest knocks on the church, in general, is that it’s full of hypocrites.  That’s a nasty perception, one the church is struggling to shake, but I see where it comes from.

The charges of hypocrisy stem from self-righteous jackwagons who want to call everyone down for their sins while pretending their own sins don’t exist.  This may work for a while, but the moment those sins come to the surface, everything else that person said gets thrown out the window.

Years ago, there were a series of scandals surrounding television evangelists that hurt Christianity as a whole for just that reason.

For you, honor may become of vital importance, and you may want to proselytize about it, but you should remain humble about your own faults.  In fact, be open and honest about how you have your own shortcomings and how trying to live a life of honor is helping you overcoming those failings.

What you can’t do is be a judgmental ass about everyone and everything.

To some, this seems silly.  What’s the point of honor if you don’t hold anyone accountable?

The problem is, I’m not saying that.  If someone betrays your trust, it’s fine to not trust them.  If someone hurts you, it’s fine to act accordingly.  That’s not being judgmental.  That’s being human.

Issues arise, however, when you hold someone to a standard you can’t keep yourself.

If you do that, while touting how honorable you are, all you’re doing is painting yourself as a hypocrite.

Treat People Like Your Life Depends On It

It’s a sad fact of the universe that if you want to be treated well, you generally have to treat others well first.  For our purposes, that means you have to be respectful of them like your life may depend on it.  Once upon a time, it did.

Insults to an individual’s honor might initiate a duel, which often led to death, though maybe not as often as many think.

However, we don’t have duels anymore.  In a way, it’s sad because there’s no reason for many people to restrain themselves in their conduct, especially on social media where I’ve been called every despicable thing imaginable simply because I disagree with some policy point.

If we want to bring honor back, we have to start with ourselves.  That means acting as if a duel might result from our words and to govern ourselves accordingly.

As this becomes associated with honorable men, a renewed emphasis on civility may be formed.

That’s not to say that vigorous debate should necessarily be avoided or that you should be a doormat for those who see no issue with insulting you.  On the contrary, engage them in debate or even engage in insults…just be clever about it.

Own Up To Your Mistakes…Then Make Amends

It’s easy to pretend we’re flawless.  Oh, few will actually say they’re flawless–though I could tell you stories about this one author who actually said as much despite having his errors pointed out repeatedly–but quite a few act like they are.

Mistakes happen, but how one handles them is telling.


If someone informs you that you have screwed up, talk to them.  Find out exactly how you made an error, and then be prepared to make amends for that error.  Most of the time, an apology is sufficient, along with an effort to not make the same mistake again.  Sometimes, however, you need to actually do something to make amends.

Unfortunately, this one gets tricky.  In our dishonorable world, some will try to take advantage of you by claiming you made a mistake.  That’s where talking to the accuser comes in.  You need to ascertain whether a mistake was actually made or not.

Now, if an apology is sufficient, even if you don’t think you did anything wrong in this instance, apologize anyway.  It won’t hurt you and it’s unlikely anyone is trying to take advantage.  At worst it’s a misunderstanding, and there’s no reason for hard feelings.

If an apology won’t cut it, however, then it’s acceptable to stick to your guns.  Be polite about it, but also be adamant.  Before you do that, however, be honest with yourself. Could you have made this mistake?

Remember that if someone honestly believes you’ve screwed up and you argue you haven’t, they will dismiss your honor as nonexistent.  If that happens enough, your honor in the eyes of other becomes nonexistent, so you really do have to be honest with yourself.

These are just a few things to get you started.  Honor is a topic men used to opine about for hours on end, but philosophy is dead for most people.  It’s a shame, in a way, because it can lead to some fascinating conversations.


Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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