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Friday, May 11, 2012

The Honor Driven Life-

"I would rather be an honorable fool than a dishonorable man of great wisdom and power." Michael R. Lockridge

Yes, I am quoting myself. That is because I turned that phrase while thinking on my topic, and it sounded good. Like a quote I might have gotten from someone wise, and honorable. Perhaps I did. I will leave that for others to judge.

Honor, like Justice and Love and Wisdom, is an Ideal. Like most ideals, Honor is difficult to define. My wife considers my sense of honor to be obscure and inconvenient, at times. I agree. However, if I honestly assess who and what I am, I realize that I am an Honor Driven Man.

Oh. Honesty. That is another ideal. There really are quite a few.

Since all of you have read Plato's Republic, and I know you all have, we can refer to that. The ideal of Justice is addressed, and generally not defined adequately. There are a lot of problems defining Ideals. Plato came up with a whole theory, founding a whole way of philosophical thinking to keep generations of philosophers from falling into real jobs and doing anything productive.

I have sought the quote I most like on the subject of Justice. A movie quote. So far I haven't found it. "Justice is the ideal. The law is what we have to live with." Something like that. It shows how ideals don't always quite touch the ground. They are beyond what we can know and understand and achieve, yet we are compelled to pursue them.

Back to Honor. Honor can be confused with pride. Now Pride can be an ideal, of sorts, or something of a vice. It has an obscurity greater than most ideals. Perhaps it is a bit of a bastard, not quite up to the standards of its more ideal siblings. I don't know. I do know that pride can compel people to strive to great heights, and also prevent people from acting wisely, compassionately and honorably.

Now my own sense of honor does not allow me to lie for my own convenience. I have lied as a matter of performing my duties in my profession in law enforcement. I did so under instruction, and in my honor-driven moral structure I am able to transfer the matter of dis-honor to those giving me the instructions. My honor binds me to serve those with whom I have a contract, an agreement. If they require a lie that does not violate the law, I can follow orders and lie. The dis-honor becomes theirs, as the ones in authority. I have rarely been asked lie, largely because I am not a very good liar. I lack the skill due to a lack of practice.

Honor, conflicting with Honesty. Freedom, an ideal that is all too often achieved and protected by violating the ideal of Peace. Plato was right about this matter, at least. Ideals are not easy to identify, and very hard to apply.

Then there are also ideals that are compromised into pseudo-ideals. They appear to be ideals, but if you examine the context they are something else entirely. Self-seeking lovers of power like these pseudo-ideals, whereby they appear to be Good and Honest and True. Self-righteous people can also often compromise ideals. They can seem Moral and Righteous, without the inconveniences ideal Morality and Righteousness would require.

My ideal seems most often to be Honor, though I must be honest and recognize that my sense of Honor is obscure and more intuitive than logical. It may simply be my particular brand of self-delusion by which I have learned to cope with the uncertainties of life. That sense of Honor drives me, no matter how poorly I can identify and define it.

For the most part, it works well enough. Hardly anybody gets hurt.

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