When I hear this word I think of knights and samurais: people who live by what seem to be (according to romantic and anachronistic novels) hard-and-fast codes of honor. I also think of ‘honor killings,’ where people murder others (usually women, sometimes themselves) in order to ‘save face.’ I can see nothing honorable about killing somebody else because you feel ashamed of their actions. That to me is not honor, or even remotely healthy boundaries.
And yet we have phrases like ‘honoring our word,’ which implies staying true to our promises. Defined, honor means dignity, esteem, respect. Those things are important – assuming I agree to standards by which actions are deemed honorable. Most of the time I think what counts as honorable is merely fancy dress, a show for others’ sake.
While I certainly want the respect and esteem of my closest friends, family and chosen kin, what’s most important to me is that I esteem myself and my actions. Isn’t this concept another word for integrity? I want to be someone trusted, who follows through on promises, for my actions and words to be in agreement.
How do I pursue that? I do it. Every time. Of course, I screw up, I make mistakes, but then I take responsibility, make amends when possible, and then try again. Eventually people will notice and public honor will recognized. But there is no way to pursue a more public honor without first pursuing a quieter, more personal one.
This topic is incredibly apt. Before my dedication rite on Saturday my group had a little lecture on ethics and morals. We discussed the difference (morals being societal guidelines of what is good/acceptable and what is bad/unacceptable, ethics being more of a personal code with which people can respond to situations; I have been told before by people with PhDs in this sort of topic that this line is fluid and that ethics and morals are the same: I disagree). Feri is considered amoral. It is not immoral. It does not deliberately embrace what most people think is bad; instead Feri steps outside that entire construct and demands that we choose for ourselves.
What I have found is that most of the Feri initiates I know have an incredibly strong sense of personal ethics. Honor is a part of that, and by honor I mean integrity, honesty, and respect for others. This attitude of personal ethics suits me incredibly well, as I have never liked rules and pretty much consider them guidelines for everyone else. However, I generally don’t disagree with most rules if I can see why they are in place and how they are useful. But if I can’t see that? I tend not to go along with them. I do not believe in moral absolutes; I firmly embrace situational ethics.
In order to strengthen my own ethics I must also hone my own honor. For me, the daily details of doing what I say I’ll do, following through on things I’ve said, and apologizing as necessary are part of that. A bigger piece is learning to listen more carefully (to things said and unsaid), to hold silence (both remaining quiet and keeping things secret as necessary), and to mind my own business (ie, not attempt to solve everyone’s problem, not always offering advice or my thoughts, to let other people go about their lives as they please).
I most certainly pursue honor, and I think this is a great maxim to meditate on.