Honesty, 2.2.09

Spent most of tonight wasting time instead of writing.  More to come…


What is honor (or moral behavior or honesty or the right thing)?  Lately, honor has been in the news.  Some of President Obama’s nominees for Cabinet positions have been under fire because of a lack of honor in paying their taxes.  Michael Phelps has made the news because he was taking a nice hit off of a bong.  In my personal life, I have been discussing with my dad whether downloading media for free is illegal.

All of these events hinge on a definition of honor.  What exactly is honor?  Is it doing the morally correct thing or doing the legally correct thing?  Who defines honor?  Is it a general consensus or a personal choice?  What are the consequences for dishonorable behavior?  Should it be retribution or is the damage to reputation sufficient?

These are tough questions to answer.  For most people, it is hard to develop a strong personal definition of honor.  There are always ways to get around the spirit of something while meeting its letter.  This kind of attitude leads to people skimping on their taxes (Tom Daschle).  For others, laws seem arbitrary and impersonal, so desire is more important than legality (Michael Phelps).  And for some people, the risk of consequences is minimal (illegal downloaders).

Personally, I did not develop a sense of honor until I went to college.  I no longer had my parents to motivate me so I looked at my schoolwork as a representation of myself.  If professors thought that I was willing to cheat, I was offended (as any personal affront usually offends me, regardless of whether it impugns my skills at the ultimate or Halo or my deep knowledge of NBA basketball, or yes, my honesty).  However, I broke many a law pertaining to alcohol because I felt like they were imposed on disenfranchised youth by fascist, fear-mongering adults (see Sparks).  Anyway, my personal honor code is defined by my idea that morality and not legality takes precedence, which leads to strong ideals about cheating or stealing but weak feelings towards personal choices like weed or alcohol.  Please, dear reader, share your own honor code in the comments.


UNC Chapel Hill’s Honor Code

3 Responses to “Honesty, 2.2.09”

  1. aldred says:

    been waiting for that more to come, thinking and rubbing my hands over what it could be – keep us on tenterhooks will ye, dime-master!

  2. bp says:

    a penny saved is a penny earned! (Daschle is simply living by his own moral code) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdrp8vIoofA

  3. tats-ah-das-ay-go says:

    as for honor,
    i’ve long been told
    i have none.

    this may be true,
    or not;
    but i leave man

    to heave
    such heavy breaths
    o’er the desert

    as i know their
    paltry moans
    will presently

    mingle with
    the wind which
    passes over us all:

    as for me,
    i live by no man’s code…
    not even my own!

    i be tats-ah-das-ay-go,
    the silent killer!
    hear the rustle

    of my mocassins,
    and know this:
    soon shall i blanch thy bones!

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