The birth of a child has always been viewed in many cultures as a great gift from the creator in times gone by. To date there are still many aboriginal and first nation people who see the opportunity to guide a young life to maturity as a community calling to do right and create a just human being. The drive to invest in creating such a paragon of virtue with whom the future is secure is fueled in these cultures by a thing called honour. Though a very abstract concept in our televised world today, honour is critical to the very fabric of a progressive civilized society that wishes to keep its standards and values supportive, nurturing and citizen oriented.
In the societies where honour is an important virtue it is the men of these communities within whom its safe keeping is vested. From an early age, it is taught to the young male that keeping his word is important, doing what he says he will do is critical and learning a high standard of performance is mandatory. This not to be confused with false pride which is used interchangeably with honour to justify heinous acts in the name of saving one from shame or keeping a family name free from perceived tarnish. On the contrary, this is the insistence that regardless of the emotion in the moment one is called to a higher standard of behavior and a stronger code of conduct. Honour among men is taught and is not to be misconstrued with loyalty to faulty ideals which exists as a support system for wrongdoing.
In teaching honor, we ingrain our sons into the understanding of right and wrong and teach that situation ethics don’t exist. We teach them that though you have emotions you cannot be ruled by them because there are emotions which are negative in nature and do not deserve to be acted upon. We teach them that the truth is not a convenient tool to be utilized in parts and portions or to be spun in a direction which suits a situation but must be given as it is with no seasoning or marinating for a better story. The ethic of personal responsibility for one’s wrongs is also uppermost in the teaching of what honour is. No one is responsible for your actions or feelings, but you and it is up to you to make things right if you have acted without honour or in selfishness.
In conversations with young men who have been in trouble with the law or have ended up in situations they are now slaves to they revealed perceptions of loyalty to things and ideals which were without honour. They had ideas that someone else was responsible for what happened to them, that the society owed them something and showed no ability to control their emotions and actions before situations got out of control. Their courage came from a bottle or from a crew and their ability to act independently in a manner that was constructive, and contributory was limited or non-existent.
The lessons of honour must be taught to young men as they grow so as to enable them to become men of substance. Their ability to be alone is important because honour has been taught and will not allow them to dishonor a woman’s name or their fathers name. Honour will hold them steady when they are presented with the inducement to do wrong for personal gain in high or regular office. Honour will hold them accountable for their actions and will make them understand that a child of yours should be raised by you and that child’s mother does not deserve your disrespect.
*As featured in GEEMS Magazine Issue 2 ‘Conversations with Men’
by Salon McDonald