Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Honor


Principled uprightness of character; personal integrity, the quality of being honorable and having a good name, a code of integrity, dignity, and pride, chiefly among men, that was maintained in some societies, good name; reputation, glory or recognition; distinction
these r the definitions for honor that can be found in the dictionaries but I absolutely didn't feel satisfied by them so I thought that the best way to know the meaning of Honor is to ask an honorable person so I asked a Friend that I have full confidence in his honorable behavior (I'm not sure of the validity of my judgment but he is surely more honorable than me) and that is what he said:
"Honor is showing great respect for yourself, other people, and the rules you live by. When you are honorable, you keep your word. You do the right thing regardless of what others are doing. Honor is a path of integrity"
After hearing that I felt that I'm almost on the right way to catch the real meaning for Honor so I searched harder, squeezed my brain harder and after ten hours of meditation (that I didn't do) I reached multiple opinions on the matter of honor.
I begin with William Shakespeare and his play "King Henry IV" in a wonderful scene on Part one of the play and her is a quote from Sir John Falstaff while he is defining Honour to us:
"Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no. or an arm? no. or take away the grief of a wound? no. Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? he that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no. Doth he hear it? no. 'Tis insensible, then. Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere escutcheon: and so ends my catechism".
After remembering that I felt closer to know the meaning of Honor so I kept going...
I remembered that I've read a story concerning honor some where so I've searched the web a bit and what u know I've found it and it is a story of a master swordsman who sat calmly through a barrage of insults from potential robbers. The swordsman avoided a fight by expertly catching four flies with his chopsticks and then getting up and walking away. Traditional misunderstandings of honor would see this man insulted and would say that he should get revenge. In fact, nothing that the robbers could say would take away the swordsman's skill or honor. Fighting them would not make this swordsman more skilled or honorable. It was more honorable for this swordsman to walk away so Honor is not to avenge someone or something.
In summary Honor is to know shame and trying to prevent it at the cost of ones life and there is no need for explaining the meaning of the word shame cause we deep inside know what we should be ashamed of and what we shouldn't and as one of the great samurai once said "Shame (haji) is the most important word in a samurai's vocabulary. Nothing is more shameful than not understanding shame" and from here comes the origin of seppuku that the samurai that feels that he has dishonored himself or his master commit suicide (I'll talk about seppuku in another post).
So it seems that Honor sums all the 7 virtues of the Bushido in one and to be honorable is to live putting the honor in front of u in all ur actions...
Note: that was the hardest post I've ever wrote so I hope that it is good and if not then forgive me for my lack of intellect...

5 comments:

David said...

Hi Kyubai, thanks for visiting my blog. :) I think that honor is a difficult concept to define. However, I have my own sense of honor that I try to always live by. Basically, I must always tell the truth and always keep my promises. Well, sometimes this is a difficult path to walk, especially when very personal emotions are involved. For example, it can be very difficult to criticize the person you love. Say your girlfriend asks you a question and wants an honest answer. Well, sometimes a completely honest answer may hurt her feelings. So, do you tell the complete truth, or do you hold back part of the truth so she will be happy?

Regarding Samurai and seppuku, I find that too extreme for my taste! Still, I am fascinated by ancient Japanese culture. I really loved the Shogun TV mini-series. The setting was about 400 years ago in Japan. When I met some Japanese exchange students in college, I told them that I loved that story. They all were very quick to tell me that Japan was nothing like that today! I found that very amusing. :)

aNarki-13 said...

Shogun Roolz! i have it on dvd! awesome attention to details..Clavell is a wizard!

why did the japanese devise seppuku, and why did it have such weight in honor issues?
because seppuku is the ultimate "taking of responsibility for one's actions"

it is too extreme by today's value-system and standards.. but that's how everything is becoming.. today, honesty, integrity, "shin" courage, are things most would scoff at, going like: "owwwhhh you are sowwwhh naive.."

hrpmh! anyway, great post, KyuBei, rock on!

Kyubai said...

David: Glad that u liked the post it took alot of time since as u have mentioned "Honor" is a difficult concept to define, u've mentioned that u have a certain code of honor u try to live by (I think that is splendid) but the idea of code of honor was part of the problem that i've faced since it is not a static concept, anyone can have his own code of honor according to what he think honorable so I think that honor alone without the other virtues can not be implemented correctly a peson should have the correct view of what is honorable and what is not to define his own code of honor.
About seppuku I agree with u that it is kinda extreme but if u think a bit about the way of the samurai u'll see it is the perfect ritual for self purification that suits the honorable samurai and as Anarki has said"seppuku is the ultimate (taking of responsibility for one's actions)" and u should know that seppuku is extremly painful to perform and that's why sometimes the person ask for the aid of a second and that says how the samurai was commited to their code of honor...

Anarki: it is indeed that the value of the honorable virtues is being underestimated, I'm not saying that if u dishonor urself u should commit seppuku but at least think of what u have done and feel sorry and shameful and try to straighten things up in a trial to regain ur honor.
it is really sad that if u talk about morals and ethics these days u'll be mocked but it is not the fault of these days and as one of the Arabic poets said:
نعيب زماننا و العيب فينا
و ما لزماننا عيب سوانا
In english (for not arabic personnel):
we may blame time while we should blame ourselves
and there is nothing wrong with time save us...

ForestAcre said...

Kyubei and aNarki13,
There is a response to this post here.

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honor...what is honor? the feeling that you have when you do something good, or the fact of do something without wait for retribution? choose your answer.