JimWes Thinks

August 26, 2010

Fading Honor…..

Filed under: Corruption, credibility, Honor, Integrity, Wisdom — Tags: , , , , — jimwes @ 7:18 pm


Honor is what others think about us. Integrity is what we ourselves think about our own character. Honor is a reflection of what we look like to others. Integrity is what we see when we look at ourselves.

Honor is earned by what we do when others see us and know what we have done. Integrity is defined by what we do where no one can see us or find out what we have done.

The importance of both is defined by our conscience.

Honor” is an endangered word…a devalued verbal currency. It is seldom used properly, often applied inappropriately, hardly ever deserved, frequently visibly violated, rarely properly applied, recurrently sought by the undeserving, uncommonly found in the prominent, regularly unrecognized in the commoner, inhabitually merited though quite oft used in government, regularly diminished in sports, scarcely visible in society, generally ignored when deserved and often conferred upon those who merit it least.

Yet we tell ourselves that we are proud of our honorableness as a person, as a family, as a country, as a culture, as an ethnic group, as a civilization, as a human being.  Are we?

Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.

– Proverbs 22:1

Do we deserve to be proud of our honor?  Who yet is honorable?  Is there any one noble left on the planet?

At one time it made a difference…presently it may not.

The word noble is already long gone from our vocabulary.  When was the last time you heard anyone described as noble or having done something noble?

The anonymity of the megacity has relegated honor to the garbage heap of history.  Personal invisibility within the mass of humanity has obviated the need to be honorable or even honest.  Who cares what others think?

In parallel honor is being bestowed as a feel good medication.  Students in some schools are now being given maximum grades whether they have learned anything or not and a few really up-to-date schools are now “honoring” scores of valedictorians at graduation ceremonies…just so no one will feel bad.

Thus we see that simultaneously with the diminishing importance of honor its meaning is being diluted into nothingness.

If there ever was on Planet Earth a culture of nobility and honorability, it has now been replaced by a culture of corruption…if ever a culture of integrity existed, it has been superseded by a culture of dishonor.

The cult of corruption has become the credo of civilization in Century 21…and honor, though not yet dead, like the proverbial old soldier of the ballad…is just fading away.

Ballad: Old Soldiers Never Die
There is an old cookhouse, far far away
Where we get pork and beans, three times a day.
Beefsteak we never see, damn-all sugar for our tea
And we are gradually fading away.

Old soldiers never die,
Never die, never die,
Old soldiers never die
They just fade awa

It is said that once upon a time on this relatively tiny sphere of whirling matter where we temporarily are imprisoned by Newton’s Law the inhabitants acted honorably, spoke honorably, dressed honorably, respected laws honorably, treated their parents honorably, raised their children honorably, defended their country honorably, served their government honorably, worshipped their God honorably  and lived their lives honorably.

A myth?  Ancient history? Obsolescent?

Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.


It is best to live with honor for just a day than with dishonor for many decades

– Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Indian                    Spiritual Leader

A quick look at the English language tells us that honor was, at least in the past, considered very important but it has been greatly devalued like an overvalued currency in a depression.

For example, there are several words in the English language meaning meritorious of being honored, that is deserving to be honored or the quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

  • Honorificabilitudinitatibus
  • Honorificabilitudinity
  • Honorableness
  • Honorability
  • Honorable
  • Honoree
  • Hon.
  • The oldest, honorificabilitudinitatibus, the longest word in Shakespeare’s works, used also by Dante, is said to be  9th longest word in the English language as well as the longest word featuring alternating consonants and vowels. Honorificabilitudinity was apparently a later shortened version. Neither is commonly used today. Honorableness and honorability are seldom used. Honorable or Hon. are only occasionally used to address high officials.

    Simultaneously honorees are proliferating into a meaningless herd as everyone must be honored to preserve their self-respect. If everyone becomes an honored honoree, no one is really honored.

    These words have become obsolete, meaningless or are fading away.

    This leads us to the word honor and to the questions I have for you.

        • Is honor fading away too?
        • Will it become obsolete?
        • Do we, as individuals, deserve to be honored?
        • Do our parents and families deserve to be honored?
        • Does our country deserve to be honored?
        • Does it make any difference anymore?
        • If honor fades away, what will replace it?

    What is an Honorable Man?

    • An honorable man is one who deserves honor. He deserves honor because of his character.
    • A man whose children look up to him as an example of a great father deserves honor.
    • A man whose wife can respect and love him for his integrity, honesty, and faithfulness deserves honor.
    • A man whose family and friends respect him for his decency and goodness deserves honor.
    • A man who holds the intent to live the best life he can, deserves honor.
    • A man who dedicates his life to making the world a better place, deserves honor.
    • Honorable men are those whose lives inspire us, enrich our world, and make the planet better by being here.
            • – Jennifer  Jones

      A person is not given integrity.

      It results from

      the relentless pursuit

      of honesty at all times.”

      -author unknown

      Let’s talk now about the inverted relationship between integrity and corruption that converts honorability to dishonor.  Here are the character equations:

      Integrity + Honesty + Accountability + Ethics + Credibility = HONORABILITY

      Corruption + Fraud + Bribery + Irresponsibility + Inveracity = DISHONOR

      The traditional antonyms of integrity are corruption, disgrace, dishonesty, and dishonor.

      Those of honor are blemish, disgrace, dishonor, ill repute, and stigma.

      But times are changing.

      In today’s modern media shaped, celebrity adoring society it is becoming obvious that it is no longer always a disgrace, blemish or stigma to be corrupt, dishonest or dishonorable.  Notorious contempt for formerly high standards is now often worn as an ornament of pride, rather than a blemish of shame.  And speaking of shame, this is another word that has been outmoded.

      Over a century ago the great Cuban patriot Jose Marti, Cuba’s equivalent of Jose Rizal, commenting on the decline of shame said:

      Shame must be made fashionable

      Jose Marti, Cuban Patriot

      Instead it appears that shame has been repealed.  Those who should suffer shame are now big mouthed heroes who have defied tradition, law and honor and are always “innocent” whether or not proven guilty.

      We once had a very colorful governor in my home state of Georgia who visited all the public prisons and asked each inmate, “Are you guilty of what they have accused you of?”  Only two out of hundreds of prisoners said “Yes”.  He went back to his office and immediately pardoned both of them saying “We’ve got two honest men in jail.”

      Integrity and honor are no longer such shining and inspiring goals as they once were.  Corruption and dishonor likewise are no longer such evil vices as they were once considered.

      Acts and actions formerly considered despicable now are welcomed by the media and give the actor glory by achieving “15 minutes of fame” with little or no risk of disrepute.

      It is not only governments that have become more corrupt, it is whole societies.

      In the Orwellian “Newspeak” of 2010:

      Disgraceful acts are honorable

      Corruption is opportunity

      We have gradually and unknowingly entered the new age of cultural change…the Age of Aquarius has finally evolved into the Age of Kleptoquerius, perhaps we have actually entered the first Kleptocentury.  Today the pollution of the human character is a far worse danger than environmental contamination or global warming.

      Corruption has always been with us.  It has gone through cycles of growth and diminution over the centuries.  Now it is again on the upswing…but the swinging is higher and faster than ever.

      Since an intelligence common to us all makes things known to us and formulates them in our minds, honorable actions are ascribed by us to virtue, and dishonorable actions to vice; and only a madman would conclude that these judgments are matters of opinion, and not fixed by nature.

      – Marcus Tullius Cicero

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