A Return to Honor (in More Than One Sense)


Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious dear than life.  —William Shakespeare


I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to prove worthy of the trust.  —Geronimo


Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.  —Douglas MacArthur



     In the previous post I defined the term “honor” as dutifully and conscientiously following a code of morality or set of principles, so conscientiously in fact that the morals or principles are considered by the honorable person to be greater than and more important than one’s own life. Since writing that post I have continued to ponder the endangered species known as honor, and have continued to have some insights on the subject, which I would like to share with you, dear reader, in what follows.

     I observed last time that honor involves courage, and that a coward cannot be honorable; but I didn’t elaborate on this or explain why. At the time I wrote the post it was mainly intuitive, and I had not articulated the idea fully to myself. I simply felt, deep down, that a coward obviously cannot be truly honorable. But while I was at work the other day the verbal explanation of the idea came to me: a coward cannot be honorable because, in accordance with the definition, an honorable person must consider what he honors to be greater and more important than his own life—and a coward values his own life, no matter how wretched it might be, above all else.

     This is one reason why women are, statistically speaking, less likely to have it. Human nature being what it is, men are evolved to be the fighters and risk-takers, and women tend to be, on average of course, more timid and emotionally insecure. Women want to feel safe. And valuing security over freedom is a form of cowardice.

     I really am not trying to be misogynistic here. I am simply making observations on human nature. Women are evolved primarily (alongside foraging for berries, tending the sick, and so on) to bear and raise children, who must be kept safe, and so females naturally worry about their children and their own safety while the men are out fighting for it. This is human nature, and has been for a million years, and so I am not for or against it, I am just trying to be empirical, even though nowadays such empiricism is viewed as politically incorrect, sexist, patriarchal, and probably fascistic besides.

     Anyway, if a woman willingly risks her life, it is usually for one reason: to protect her children. This is not wrong at all, but it also is not exactly a matter of honor so much as innate maternal instinct. It is not so much a matter of valuing a moral code or a set of principles so much as it is a matter of “my baby!”

     In premodern times a personal sense of honor came pretty easily: not only was there a deep respect for it ingrained in the culture in those days, but pretty much everyone believed from childhood in something that they considered to be greater and more important than themselves: religion, family, tribe, even honor itself. More lately, due in part to the ironically named Enlightenment, individualism has been the worldview of choice for most westerners, and it is not particularly conducive to honor.

     In fact individualism is making huge contributions to the extinction of honor. Modern westerners increasingly fail to view anything—family, tribe, nation, religion, ethics, etc.—to be higher and more important that the sovereign self. Now it is more a matter of I, me, mine, which sets the stage for cowardice, or at most a backbone dedicated to looking out for Number One.

     Honor is out of fashion also because merit is gradually going out of fashion. The most dysfunctional, feeble, timid basket case is now “equal” to everyone else, including the greatest heroes, in every way that supposedly matters, due to the leftist ideal of absolute equality, including equality of outcome. For that matter, said basket case may see himself/herself/whatever as downright superior to a heroic man of action because, well, heroic men of action, like maybe Julius Caesar, are patriarchal white supremacists with an overabundance of toxic masculinity.

     With a modern or postmodern leftist outlook the closest thing to actual honor might be the deification of the political and social ideology or maybe the central government…with “honor” thus being a kind of self-righteous pride in one’s own moral enslavement. As I observed in the previous essay, honor is not necessarily positive or morally skillful. Consider the Islamist who believes in such a perverted idea of Islam that he considers himself destined for heaven and dark-eyed houris because he blew up a building or school bus full of unarmed innocents. That also is a kind of honor, in accordance with our working definition, especially if the Islamist isn’t just after the houris, or just lashing out in rage at his own failed attempts at living a reasonably happy life. Honor is truly a virtue only if the honored code or set of principles are morally and spiritually uplifting to the individual who harbors it.

     As in Huxley’s Brave New World, our globalist wannabe overlords discourage strong, deep feelings other than fear and hysteria; and they particularly discourage genuinely moral or patriotic feelings, condemning them as reactionary, fascistic, or whatever—largely because an honorable free man is a serious threat to a system of docile sheeple controlled by propaganda and an authoritarian mommy state.

     True honor, not just the reverence of one’s own globalism-imposed mental shackles, is anathema to the kind of New World Order that is planned for us. Even one honorable man poses a threat to the system, but when most of the population accepts the same code of honor, or at least similar ones, then the results are phenomenal, as history shows. History also shows what happens to a civilization composed almost entirely of feminized sheep.

     I have stated more than once that, although men are more likely to be genuinely honorable than women, some women can outdo most men in that regard. Also, as maybe I haven’t stated, honor can be contagious. The following is a somewhat famous example of both of these points. It comes from a story by Leo Tolstoy called “Father Sergei,” about a forest-dwelling Russian Orthodox monk. The story is fictional, but something like this could easily happen in so-called real life, and I am sure that it has, many times. Years after I read the story I discovered that the scene which follows was borrowed by Tolstoy from an account of the early Christian desert fathers, and if I remember correctly it is a tale of Saint Anthony. In the original version, or at least the early Christian version, a prostitute was sent by some pagan rascals to tempt the desert hermit, and she stared in horror all night as the saint roasted his fingers over an oil lamp. I must admit I like Tolstoy’s version better.

     Father Sergei, so the story goes, began his career as an officer in the Russian army; but he became sorely disillusioned when his lady love jilted him practically on his wedding day, and so he became a Russian Orthodox monk. He was still a red-blooded man, but he strove honorably to be as good a monk as he could manage. He lived in a small cabin in a forest, and gradually acquired a reputation for being a saint.

     One day a troika full of rambunctious young aristocrats were driving through this forest, and one of them remarked that a famous saint (Father Sergei) lived nearby. A very pretty and vivacious young woman in the party replied offhand that if he was a man, then she could seduce him, saint or no. Some of the others challenged this, and so a dare was put forth and accepted: they would drop her off near the hermit’s cabin and pick her up the next day, and they would all see if she really could seduce this saintly monk. So that’s what they did.

     The young woman knocked on Father Sergei’s cabin door, and when he opened it she told him that she had somehow gotten lost and needed someplace to stay. Seeing her beauty, and with dread in his heart, he allowed her to stay in his cabin…and then set up a sleeping place for himself in the woodshed.

     Realizing that she couldn’t very well seduce him if he slept in the woodshed she came up with a plan: She’d pretend that she saw a mouse or some such, pretend to be terrified and make squeals of distress, and when the monk came in to see what was the matter she would fling herself into his arms, and let nature take its course from there. So she started squealing. Father Sergei, upon hearing this, was filled with dread again. But after a few moments he collected himself and went into the cabin. 

     At this point the young woman continued with her act, until she noticed that Father Sergei’s face was white as chalk, and that he had an extremely intense look in his eyes. Next she noticed that next to his foot on the floor was a growing puddle of blood. She looked between the white face and the blood and saw, to her horror, that immediately before coming into the cabin he had taken an axe and chopped off one of his own fingers—in a purely desperate attempt to resist her sexual charms. This took all the seduction out of the young woman. After seeing nothing was really the matter Father Sergei went back to the woodshed, and the young woman spent the night alone in the cabin.

     After her friends picked her up the next day they teased her for miles at her failure; but she sat silent and in a kind of thoughtful daze for the rest of the trip. Almost as an aside, before continuing with the story of Sergei, Tolstoy mentions that shortly thereafter the young woman entered a convent and became a nun.

     The thing is, the woman was without honor, as most probably were her friends, but upon coming upon a truly honorable man she was awestruck to the point that it changed her life profoundly, and presumably for the better. As I have observed before, honor elicits respect, even if it is reluctant respect. Anyway, it is best to teach by example.



"The Temptation of Saint Anthony," by Domenico Morelli (1878)

Comments

  1. Been married 30 years, still got all my digits. Anthony and company were a buncha pussies ...

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    1. All nasty kidding aside, I agree that the woman in the story was without honor, and the monk was honorable, though fanatical, resorting to self-mutilation. Is there no honor in acknowledging your weakness, say in giving yourself to the temptress and then trying to make an honest woman of her?
      Saint Anthony and company seem fanatical to me, and other than Christian. Christ went into the desert for 40 days but then returned to human society after all.

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