Proprieties at all times… if you please.

Rob RoyDoes honor still matter? I had jury duty this week. They introduced the Judge as, honorable. The people in the court room who talked to him called him, ‘your honor.’ As a result I studied (contemplated) on the notion of honor a little bit. I don’t know if the judge is honorable or not. Perhaps it’s the position more than the man, although Id prefer the man make the position honorable I think.

Walter Lippmann, the twentieth century writer said, “He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.” While this makes sense to me, it seems far too rare an event. I’m not sure that people know the ‘ideal of conduct’ that Lippmann is speaking about. Perhaps I don’t. I’ve many times said or done things that, given the opportunity for a do-over, Id certainly take advantage. We should be teaching proprieties more. A proper base of behavioral propriety is essential to the establishment of honor.

Last week I saw again the movie Rob Roy on television. Robert MacGregor was a patriot of Scotland in the early 1700s. In the movie, an evil man robbed MacGregor and testified falsely making him an outlaw. Upon securing his freedom, he directly secured the opportunity to satisfy his honor by fighting the man who robbed him and accused him falsely. He told his sons, “Honor is a gift a man gives himself.”

We’ve seen a lot of examples of politicians who have committed ethical wrongs. They are sometimes ‘censured’—this is little more than popping a dog on the nose with a news paper. We do not uphold honor when we devalue ethics and integrity. Ministers caught in marital affairs or financial compromises sacrifice not only the honor of their position (that is to say the honor of ministry, not honor given them by others), they also dishonor the institution they serve. Athletes, who fake fouls, contend they made a catch when they didn’t, or cuss at the umpire; these are without honor.

And as regular people, this ‘ideal of conduct’ is not simply good manners. I think its dignity in speech, its integrity, its kindness and courtesy. At over fifty years of age, I’m still learning and trying to become a person I should have been from my youth. My political bloviating, while genuine and from the heart, has not been in line with propriety and that ideal of conduct that I would choose in my better moments. Does this mean I’ll never strike out and throw down some vitriolic opinion that riles people… probably not. But it’s better to be committed to what is right and fail sometimes, than to be committed to wrong and succeed.

So may I combine the two good thoughts that I have borrowed, “Honor is a gift a man gives himself when he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.”

As Michaleen says in the movie, The Quiet Man, “Proprieties at all times… if you please.”

telemicus out

1 Responses to Proprieties at all times… if you please.

  1. cindy smith says:

    I like this very much. I would enjoy a discussion about macgregor “satifsying his honor…” not saying i don’t agree, just would enjoy a healthy exchange of ideas. As you’ll recall, i didn’t enjoy that movie as you did. (probably a girl thing) I have managed to enjoy Tim Roth (despite his well played role as the villian) through his great role on Lie to Me. But I do like very much your combined quote. *~ c

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