Honor in Modernity

May 31, 2018

Honor is difficult to define. That's part of what it is.


It defies universality. It is paradoxical, contradictory, and to many, seems to lie outside of morality. The mercurial quality of honor is a product of its social origin: honor is given by a group of people. And groups of people are different.


But honor is real, as real as actions can be real, because honor is demonstrated by actions. The salute offered to an officer signifies not only respect, but a willingness to do what the officer says. Bowing before a king symbolizes deference, but also the promise of action, of violence in defense of the crown if necessary. Honor is as real as human action. And honor is good.


Having honor signifies that you have value in the eyes of others. It signifies stability in your place in the world, because if you have honor, then other people will help you and protect you. At the very least, they will leave you alone.


This is why desirability is an inherent quality of honor. It is better to be honorable than not to be honorable. We are social, political animals by nature, and whether or not we hold an ideal of rugged independence and individualism, being held in high esteem by others whom we respect will always remain a source of pride and purpose.


But modernity has made honor difficult.


Modernity has expanded our social and economic options, and as a result, it has never been easier to "start over;" to "go back to the drawing board." The value we provide to others is superfluous and replaceable, just as other people are decreasingly necessary to us. There are plenty of fish in the sea. It can often feel easier to simply abandon a relationship or an obligation than to carry on when it becomes stressful. The safety nets are not merely metaphorical, but often literal: our society not only protects us from risks, but often outright forbids us from taking them.


If honor is ascribed based on value we provide to others, then how can we be honorable if there is no need for human value? If we can never take risks and prove ourselves in the face of real risks and challenges, how can honor arise at all?


These are challenges that make the achievement of honor difficult. Without honor, we may find ourselves feeling alone, purposeless, and worthless, no matter how safe we are.


In the face of the emptiness of modern isolation, being honorable requires conscious effort. It requires us to choose to commit to a group, come hell or high water. Nothing else will work, because the modern age does not require us to have honor. In fact, it prefers you don't. Those without honor are less of a hassle. They cause less trouble, and are weaker and easier to overpower -- should the need arise -- because they are alone.


People who have honor, on the other hand, are dangerous. They are daring because they know their team has their back, masterful because their skill has been held to account by harsh critics, and confident because they are propelled by a vision that is older and more powerful than themselves.


All modern men face a choice: safety, or honor. Safety is the route of eternal escape, of back-up plans, what-ifs, and keeping all options open. Safety is sensible. But lonely.


Honor is the path of commitment, of sticking it out, of going all in, of focus, and passion. It is the path of hope. Practically speaking, the path of honor is not sensible in the modern age. But it is still noble, it is still admirable, and all great things, even today, ultimately derive from the path of honor.


The Cascade Legion is for not for those choosing the path of safety. It is for those on the path of honor. It requires dedication, devotion, and commitment, because the kind of group we want to be a part of is composed of men with those virtues. The cost is high, but the reward is higher: glory, and honor in the eyes of people worth earning it from.




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