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Honor: By any means necessary

What’s the one thing that makes you do the right thing when nobody is looking? What is the one thing that lets you judge other people, and gives you the courage to be judged? What is the single most important thing that builds trust within your relationships?

Your honor.

This is a tricky one to determine. It’s different for each person. It can’t be defined in a list of qualities. Even if you could, the degree of its presence would vary from one person to another. Not only that, but it’s a pain in the ass and even an honorable person will screw up and betray his/her honor once in a while.

Throughout history, religion has been the driving force behind honor. Take the Romans for example: Numa Pompilius (715-673 B.C.) brought to Rome a strong religion. It was so strong that for centuries a Roman might finagle his way out of any deal, but if you got him to swear an oath on his honor – he would keep it no matter what. People died for their oaths because they felt that if they broke them, then in the afterlife they would be extremely fucked forever. To this day, many people take a code of honor from various religions.

Some people don’t believe in any religion and so think that absconds them from needing to have honor. This is not true, and the reason is this: other people do have honor for whatever reason. This means that there is an expectation in all of society (as it turns out every group of people on the planet feel this way) that a level of honor be maintained. Even if you take a group of people who don’t speak the same language, have vastly different religious views, and look very different from each other and put them in a close social setting for a while – they will develop an honor system.

In ancient times to test a person to find if he/she had honor, some sort of conflict would have to happen. This could be done peacefully through debate or some sort of mercantile exchange (like a bet on some unknown outcome, where the loser paid and the winner was gracious); and another way was through combat. The combat one is not as easy to do today in a Western society because we’re all a bunch of pussies that are afraid of a fist fight, but we can still do the others.

So let’s say you have proven your honor to your peers. Let’s consider some outcomes:

  1. Perk: You can now judge other people. If you find someone lacking, you can call them an asshole, and if they want to beg to differ you can have a debate. If you are wrong, and you have honor, you will apologize and then stick up for that person’s honor as you now owe them a favor. Duty: You must put your honor on the line for the whole world to see constantly so that the whole world can see that you have it. If you do not, then you lose your credibility. Danger: If you put your honor on the line and fail to deliver, you lose at least some honor, so you should be thinking all the time about how to be honorable.
  2. Perk: You can now be controversial in your viewpoints. If you say something you believe to be true that is not politically correct and someone takes issue, you have a right to be shown how you have wronged anyone. Duty: You must interest yourself in controversial subjects, educate yourself on them, and form an opinion based on what you find. Danger: If you choose to be controversial for no other reason than you want to hurt people, you will lose your honor, so you should be researching all the time on why you have the stance you do and be willing to change your stance if the facts change.
  3. Perk: Your word is your bond and you are afforded the benefit of the doubt in all matters public and private. Duty: You must keep your word, and any kindness you do for someone must be repeated for others at every opportunity. Danger: You might misspeak or you might outright lie to save time, money or something else. In order to avoid this, you must strive to make sure that people know when you are doing something out of the ordinary and also when you are doing something ordinary. In this way, you can not be held accountable for things that are not normal for you and lies become unnecessary.

These are not all of the perks, duties and dangers of being an honorable person – just some that came to my mind as I was writing this; however, I have saved the best for last:

People who conduct themselves with honor are able to resolve differences peacefully and satisfactorily. They lead safer lives than dishonorable people, who must always be looking over their shoulder for people they have wronged and who are looking to get even. They are less gullible because they are always seeking out the truth of things and must therefore amass knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Despite this, an honorable person must understand that nothing is ever certain, fair, or easy. They must always be looking for the dishonorable person that is looking to take advantage. An honorable person must vigorously and constantly work towards finding honor.

Numa Pompilius (715-673 B.C.)

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