Defining Honor

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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If I were to ask half a dozen people at random to tell me what they meant by the word "honor," I think that I would probably receive very different answers. One of the reasons for this is that it often means different things in the minds of different people. For instance, we say that it was a great honor for Jim Smith to be elected captain of the football team; and then, on the other hand, we talk about a code of honor, -- or the laws of honor. What does Jim Smith's being captain of the eleven have to do with the laws of honor? What we mean, in the case of Jim, is that his election as captain shows that the other boys have confidence in his play, and therefore this position gives him a local reputation as a comparatively good player and leader. Now many people in the world have only this idea of honor; and, when they speak of holding their honor sacred above all else, they mean keeping their reputation good in the eyes of men.

For this reason, they value any office or reward that adds to their reputation; and the more their reputation grows and the more distinction they earn, the more honorable they feels themselves to be.

This was the idea of honor existing among the ancient heathen people before the Christian era. You know that, after the fall of the great Roman Empire, there was a period of about a thousand years, when the light of civilization went out in Europe, and the darkness of ignorance and barbarism took its place. During these dark days, there was much going on that was not better and sometimes even worse from a moral point of view than in the days of...