Thursday, 1 April 2010

Honor - the Heart of Resilience

Continuing with our series on the three key virtues of the Warrior, the three that make for an exceptionally resilient life, we arrive at honor.  

Anyone familiar with Star Trek's Klingon Empire will have heard that word thrown around a lot.  Unfortunately, not all of Star Trek's writers knew anything about Warrior cultures and how they function, so the ideas of honor they sometimes wrote into scripts for their Klingon characters were terribly misleading.  Fortunately, General Chang is one Klingon who hits the nail on the head:

As I said, the concept of honor has been perverted just as often as duty has, and not just in the Klingon Empire, but in real human cultures.  The Samurai fell into the trap of equating defeat with dishonor and with an unbearable shame on an entire family.  Some religious perversions talk about honor killing to avenge a perceived slight.  And, most common of all, the totally false notion that honor, like duty, involves blindly following orders - the infamous defense of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg.  Of course, we're not interested in those false ideas of honor. 

Establishing Your Honor

Before you can guard your honor, you have to establish it.  You can't protect what you don't have.  Establishing your honor comes through a determination to do the right thing, even under the most difficult circumstances That's why Chang calls it, "the absolute, unselfish dedication to all virtues; to truth, to courage, to forthrightness.  It encompasses all these, and yet it is greater."

So, if you want to have honor, then:

1. Speak the truth... and demand that the whole truth be told, boldly and bluntly

2. Do your duty to the utmost of your ability 

3. Do not allow yourself to be dragged into the disgraceful conduct of others

In our public life we're now living in a time when honor seems to be vanishing.  Despite the many fine, unselfish people we have the good fortune of knowing in our personal lives, our public life is increasingly marked by lies, deceit and manipulation.  It's a shadowy world of half-truths designed for the advantage of the unworthy and the unscrupulous.  Yet without a commitment to honor as individuals and as a civilization, we cannot survive... nor would we deserve to.  

So part of honor is to oppose the lies of public life, to speak the truth and demand that the whole truth be spoken.  Not an easy task, and one that's sure to get you into trouble.  Do you have the guts for that?  Every Warrior must.  Kapla!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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