"The forbearing use of power does not only form a
touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain
advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.
The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the
employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the
confiding, even the clever over the silly-the forbearing or inoffensive
use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when
the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light.
The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender
of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he
can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of
character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the
A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others."
~~Robert E. Lee
There was a time when a Gentleman's word was his bond. Honor was a demanding Mistress and 'Death before Dishonor' was more than just a lame ass tatoo. It was a way of life. People actually made that choice. To stand at Lexington and Concord; To ride against the Russian guns at Balaclava; to hold the works at Petersburg against Grant's hordes . . . to refuse Islam, to face alone, the power of the King, people 'did the right thing'. Some, a few now, still do choose the honorable way, regardless of cost.
Honor is personal. It is your conscience that drives you to return the found money, to not lie when you could, to leave your card on the damaged vehicle, whatever, it's YOUR honor you serve. No great crowd rises in the stands to cheer your decision. None but you even know. But YOU do know.
And you know that you, personally, will never live down the wrong choice.
Have I made bad choices? For sure. Do I regret those bad choices? Every day. Can I change what's done? Not really. Can I try to make it right? Yeah, to some extent. Do I? When I can. What if I can't? Live with it.
What's so bad about a lot of bad choices, is the collateral damage. Other people having to pay, and too often, pay a very high price, for my failure.
That's the stuff of nightmares. Often times a snap decision will prove to be the wrong one . . . most of the time, that can't be helped and that's not what this is about. In battle, say, sending Yamello over to the right to get fire on the enemy from that side, gets him killed. It's to his honor that he goes. OK, somebody had to try, and his luck ran out. That's a shame but it's not what this is about. When you have time to consider your motives, your intentions, your responsibility and you choose to go ahead, knowing it's wrong, and dodge the consequences. You lie; you pretend not to know; you cover your ass, you hide from reality. That's what this is about.
You lie, maybe about something unimportant to you. Lies, like bullets, cannot be recalled. Once you lie, you're a liar. Period. Once people figure out you're a liar, they'll never trust you or believe you again. Your honor is gone. Say you ran over somebody's dog. Just a dog, right? Wrong. You don't
care about dogs, but other people do, and so, the 'worth' of that dog is not for you to measure. It is the loss to the his owner that matters. When asked, you lie. Not knowing half dozen people saw you hit the dog, you lie. Even if no one saw it, a lie is a lie, and a lie cannot be erased. Ever.
Most people today don't believe in God. Doesn't matter if they do or not. God's still out there and He knows His people. He has a plan for those non-believers. He doesn't lose sleep over them. God laid down His rules for living His way. Follow them, or not. Your choice. You have that chance. Guess wrong and that chance is gone . . . poof . . . like dust in a sunbeam, gone. He is merciful, though, and so, you can change your mind. Never too late until it is too late. God demands honesty. You cannot bullshit God. He knows your heart, and pays little mind to what your mouth says.