Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A society that does not value honour above all else is a society in decline. Did tool making separate us from the animals? Certainly breaking nuts open with a rock could be viewed as a learning development but it was a sense of honour that allowed us to trust one another enough to form flexible, purpose-driven, social groups that were the basis of our society. It was this sense of honour that allowed us to have justice based on a code of laws and civilisation could grow. Our leaders could be trusted, our warriors could be admired, our farmers, craftsmen and academics could trade and trust in the efforts of their colleagues and families could flourish in the knowledge that they would be secure. Unless we re-establish honour into our homes and schools and demand it of our leaders, our societies will continue to fragment, our planet will continue to be ravaged, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ will continue to be perverted, our laws will lose all compassion and all that is good in this world will die.

As our societies developed from tribes and villages, it became convenient for many self-interest groups to stylise, pervert, and marginalise honour. It ceased to be a practiced code of behaviour and only survived in a perverted form where it was deemed necessary. This perversion was confused with duty and used on the battlefield to inspire valour or to shame those who would run. Consequently, ‘honour’ became 'manliness' in regard to war, duelling and revenge, and when directed at women it equated to them keeping their virginity until marriage. Sadly, even today in some parts of the world, women still die in what are called, 'honour killings'. With such shameful perversions it is understandable that few even know what honour is. We see the remnants of true honour in lawyer/client confidentiality, in the Hippocratic oath, in notions of free speech, in the pursuit of justice for all, in the scientific method, in the belief in the ‘equality of man’, and in the work ethic. For a time, men lived by the ideal that ‘a man’s word is his bond’ and the criminal world realised that without a code of honour, they could neither survive nor prosper, hence the term, ‘honour amongst thieves.’ With the push for profit at any cost and the merging of class boundaries, honour was seen as a mere nicety and order was thought to be better served by lawyers. Unfortunately, we didn’t just forget what honour is, we also lost an understanding of what it does.

Anyone can be honourable; a man, woman or child but to aid in the phrasing, I shall illustrate with a man.

An honourable man holds his honour as his most valuable possession. He never lies nor breaks his word. An honourable man will only enter a debate when he believes he is right, he would never argue simply to win the point. An honourable man will admit when he knows he is wrong and give credit to the truths of his opponent. An honourable man seeks the company of other honourable men over those that only share his viewpoint on a subject. He will listen to others, even those he disagrees with. An honourable man would never steal or cheat, such behaviour would lessen his honour. An honourable man would always do what he believes is right but he would never sacrifice the few for the good of the many, nor ask others to do so unless he was one of the few. An honourable man would never allow injustice of any kind to go unchallenged nor will he accept any rationalisation for the injustice. An honourable man seeks solutions without regard for who is suggesting them. An honourable man is humble and allows his actions to speak for him. An honourable man helps others to be honourable.

The planet is in trouble. These corporations like demonic beasts without a soul or liability, are sustained by greed and the lust for power and all that is evil in man. They create need and desires where none existed and grow fattest in war. They seek out the poorest and the starving to enslave in sweatshops, to produce goods that break or tarnish soon after purchase. They poison our rivers and consume our forests and turn our homes into waste dumps. In the temples of consumerism, profit is good and loss is evil and our elected leaders betray us, all for the benefit of ‘jobs’. Craftsmanship is dead, ruthlessness is rewarded and lying is now the art of ‘spin-doctoring’. The thieves are in charge of the treasury and the corrupt have wormed their way to the top and we feel overwhelmed and powerless to bring about change and we no longer trust those who wish to.

Every politician and leader, no matter who they are, would have us believe that they are never wrong and that their opponents are never right. Where is their credibility? In this Orwellian society, where we are bombarded with lies everyday simply to imprint brand names is it any wonder that honour is dead? Relationships, friendships and families are failing because without trust, nothing can be counted on, no foundations are solid, and no problems can be solved. When we must divorce a viewpoint from the intent of the speaker because the agenda is rarely the pursuit of truth, we are left with a perception of the truth from a grey-scale of views. Armageddon was never proceeded by the four horsemen and trumpets, it seeped in during a commercial break.

Everyone loves an honourable man regardless of his viewpoint. His sincerity and honesty earn him respect and his endeavours are trusted. He will have credibility and anyone entering into debate with him will already know that the outcome will be a growth experience for all. Even the most difficult problems facing us today, such as the cultural clash between Islam and the rest of the world, could be solved if honourable men from both sides sat down to talk. Starvation and poverty could be wiped from the globe if honourable men tackled the problem.

We must insist that our leaders always tell the truth to everyone. Excuses like ‘national security’ or ‘political sensitivity’ have been overused and have lead to a foundation of decay. It is our future at stake and ‘side-stepping the issue’, blaming the last government in power, omitting pertinent facts or putting a ‘spin’ on it only hurts us more and must be viewed as the crime it really is.

We must reward truthfulness and shun the liars. We must teach our children a code of honour and insist it be re-enforced in schools. We can start by being honourable ourselves. Honourable people trust one another and stand shoulder to shoulder. Dishonourable people may pretend to be honourable and for as long as they do they are honourable. The moment they commit a dishonourable act, they stand alone as do all dishonourable people, because neither the honourable nor the dishonourable trust them. Be proud of your honour and stand by your word no matter what. Say to others, “I am an honourable person” and the moment you do, magic happens. You will be measured by those who hear you and they will put you to the test from that moment on. If you fall, be the first to admit it and do all that you can to redeem your honour. You will earn the admiration of others and all that you do will be trusted. Those around you who have been dishonourable will be shamed and will seek to be honourable themselves. Once honour is reinstated as a valued attribute, those that cling to dishonour will standout and be unmasked. Honour is a thing that grows and all it needs to flourish is to be valued. It is the one thing we can do because we do it for ourselves, for our own self-esteem and for our children. It costs us nothing but it earns us everything. It is stability for our families; growth for our industry and it allows problems to be solved. We can have a golden age even though we have different ideals, different beliefs, different needs, and identify with different groups because the one thing we all desire is to be treated with respect and this can only be done if we bring back honour.

I am an honourable person.