Each day, when I read the newspaper, or watch the news in the evening, I find myself astounded by our penchant for deception. From the advertisements whose products guarantee to make you thin, or pretty, or smart, or rich, to our politicians, who will virtually, strait-faced and without a modicum of shame, tell us anything we want to hear in order to keep or attain the positions they desire. We have become a nation of unabashed Ponzi-pushing, pyramid scheming, snake oil salesmen. We have reached the ultimate point of despair, when in our search for politicians to lead us, we are forced to try to seek out the one whose words carry the least amount of lies.
When I watch old movies and read novels of ancient places, I am reminded of how important honor was to people in earlier times. How often I see or read of people giving their word through a handshake or taking an oath on a saint, or in the name of their king, or their God – and all of them recognizing the weight and significance of that act, their faces carved with the sanctity of the moment. Because giving their word meant something.
A few years ago I wrote a column on the value of our word, and in these twilight days of honor I am compelled to draw a few lines from that writing.
Today, from the playground to the campus, and on to the halls of Congress, there is no meat in our verbal commitment. We hardly ever discuss virtue anymore. All our attention goes to the thief, the miscreant, and the exotic villain. Our song lyrics aggrandize the hipster and the gangster. I am reminded of what Confucius said: “To be honored in an unjust society is a disgrace.”
Wrapped in a velvet tyranny of self-indulgence we have become a myopic society – we can see no farther than our next paycheck or the next hip trend. We desperately want to be part of something – as long as it’s not too taxing.
We seem to have become a society searching desperately for justice – justice for congregations of cultures and faiths – reparation and redress for a multitude of coteries, colors, cliques, and newly devised sects. But you don’t hear that much about honor…
I have always loved the quote by Karl Maeser, founder of Brigham Young University: “I have been asked what I mean by “word of honor.” I will tell you. Stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never! I’d die first.” That is honor, my friends. That is what is missing in all this politically correct quixotic pandering. Find honor, and everything else falls in place.
I would like to see honor become a fad – I’d like to see a handshake emerge as a genuine statement of commitment. I’d love to see truth become cool. If we, as a nation, suddenly had an epiphany, and conscience became our north star, think where we could go.
Michael Reisig has been writing professionally for 15 years. He is an award-winning newspaper columnist and a best-selling novelist. Be sure to check out his latest best seller,Check out Michael’s latest book, the Golden Persuader. You can see more of Michael’s work and a short biography at Amazon.com.