LIVING A LIFE WITH HONOR
“‘Life, every man holds dear; But the dear man holds honor far more precious than life.’”
“The above statement written by William Shakespeare, appears in one of his lesser known tragedies, Troilus and Cressida. It defines the true meaning of Honor among men.”
HOW IS PERSONAL HONOR DEFINED?
“Honor can be defined in many ways. It means respect and esteem earned by an individual through deed and reputation. It does not mean an automatic recognition of one’s right to great respect, and does not come by simply doing remarkable things in impossible situations. Rather it comes by acquisition of respect among others, slowly. As good deeds accumulate respect turns in something more, and before you know it, the person has earned honor.
Honor can also be subjective and relates to a person having Integrity. In plain language, an honorable person avoids deception whenever possible, treats others with respect and sticks to his beliefs no matter how others think or act. This is a priceless gift that everyone in the world can achieve. It cannot be bought, or sold or traded, and can only be gained by the respect earned from his peers. It is a code of behavior characterized by a sense of ethical and moral conduct, loyalty and integrity. It means establishing a reputation and a moral identity that are consistent and predictable, and keeping them at all cost.
Honor cannot be passed on from generation to generation, nor can it be learnt from reading books. It however can be taught by example and model and by providing the right milieu. A child growing up in a home where respect, loyalty and commitment is the norm, will much more likely develop these principles than one who does not. Similarly, a society which recognizes the importance of Honor is more likely to produce similar behavior among its members than one which does not.
In my own life, for as long as I can recall the concept of Honor has been an integral part of my life. Growing up in a home where I witnessed my father who lived by his word and who took every opportunity to impart this to his children, it seemed quite easy to follow. He often related to us his reason why he dropped his family name and adopted his middle name, because of the social behavior of his cousins whose action were unacceptable to him and he could not tolerate the embarrassment. To me this action was totally commendable and appropriate, though many others disagreed.
During my life, I have encountered many men of honor and have consistently admired and respected the way they conducted their lives. By contrast, I have been associated with many more who spend their lives in deceit, selfish gain and unprincipled behavior and who have earned and continue to earn my unreserved contempt. I can think of one family, whose offspring have consistently lived by deceit, manipulation and scheming and who have the uncanny ability to pass this on to subsequent generations. Although highly successful, their lives are strewn with unending disastrous relationships and hardships. They have consistently earned my contempt and rejection.
In the end however, I believe that to live with honor is a very personal choice. To adapt a famous statement; for those who live with Honor, no explanation is necessary, for those who don’t, no explanation is possible.”