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Sunday, January 4, 2015

What's the Point of Being Honorable?

When I think of honor, I think of one man (well, Klingon): that would be Worf. Worf, if you're unfamiliar with him, is from Star Trek: The Next Generation and also later starred in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. If you need a quick brush up on why he was awesome, this video will get you up to speed.

Now, with out of the way, let's get to the meat of this: is there really any point in being honorable in this day and age?

I ask the question simply because, over the last few days, I've wondered myself if there was. This all spawned late one night as I was talking with my best friend on the phone. Many references were made and many things were said, but one of the things she said stuck with me: she said it was a good thing that I wanted to keep my promises to people.

And, after the call ended, I kept revisiting that and the thought occurred to me that not only was it a good thing, but it was an honorable thing and that it was something Worf would totally do.

In the intervening days, I've been studying the Catechism and the word "honor" has appeared a lot in it of late. As Catholics, we're called to honor God. We're called to honor Mary and the Holy Family. We're called to honor Christ and to honor our parents. We're called to honor our husbands and wives (depending on which you have). We're called, in some respects, to honor our neighbors.

That's a lot of honor. But, all added up, I find myself comparing "being honorable" to something else: "being a nice guy."

As everyone knows, "being a nice guy" is a death knell. Whatever follows that phrase is almost always not something you want to hear. Is "being honorable" actually "being a nice guy?" Being "honorable" isn't exactly a popular thing. Honor, as defined in the Catechism, is "to praise or show respect and courtesy for someone."

It's tough for me to come to the conclusion that that's happening a lot in this day and age, especially in the realm of dating/marriage. I work in retail, so I see plenty of couples go through the store, and there just doesn't seem to be a lot of that going around. Are the couples nice enough? Usually. But it's the little actions that get me -- whether it's the guy sneaking a look at another attractive girl nearby or the girl ignoring the guy for something on her phone, it just doesn't seem like "honor" is in great supply or demand.

Yet, everything I read tells me that "honor" is desired in multiple facets of our lives, including (but not limited to) dating. But I have to ask, is it really desired at all? It seems like it's an optional requirement.

I mean, if the people who aren't "honorable" are getting all these things they want, what's the point, right? You can just act like a jerk and you get what you want. No need for pretense or trying to be a better person, you just do as you do and stuff happens to you that's good.

Again, if "being honorable" is in the same category as "being the nice guy" than shouldn't we just avoid that all together? "Being the nice guy" is not a great thing to be in the world. You don't get much credit and you get taken advantage of sometimes.

It seems like "being honorable" will only result in being hurt.

But, there's Worf. Worf was an honorable dude; he was honorable to the core. His honor resulted in many great successes and -- sadly -- many great tragedies. He lost not only one woman he loved, but two. He had a strained relationship with his people (the Klingons) and his son. He was a man of strict moral code whom, when it came down to it, defaulted to that code, even though it resulted in at least one significant career setback.

Worf had a tough go of it. His honor required something else that "being the nice guy" doesn't: it required sacrifice.

And here is where Star Trek and Catholicism cross paths. Worf was honorable to a fault and he sacrificed a lot for that honor. As Catholics, we are also called to sacrifice for those we honor -- whether it is God, our parents, or our spouses. Sacrifice is part of the requirements for this way of life. Sacrifice is the defining characteristic in all things that are great.

You can't achieve greatness without sacrifice -- it's a historical fact.

It's no secret what I want in life. It's sprayed across this blog and other corners of the Internet: I want a wife, a family (if it's in God's plan), I want to build something. And you know what? That requires sacrifice. It's going to require me to sacrifice time, money, effort, and only God knows what else. But it'll require sacrifice.

Which is why "being honorable" isn't "being a nice guy." Being nice doesn't require sacrifice -- it requires human decency and the ability not to be a jerk, but it doesn't require sacrifice (maybe sacrificing your more primal human tendencies, but that's debatable).

So, that said, does being honorable have a point? I will say it does. Being honorable is something that is above us. It's beyond us in a lot of respects because to be honorable we have to be able to sacrifice, we have to be selfless, and we have to be willing to suffer. As Catholics, we are called to do that.

And, though technically I am the unofficial-official-converting-Catholic, I'm called to do that. Being honorable teaches us how to think, just a little, like God. It's a tiny sliver into his thought process, but it's a very important sliver. The point of being honorable is to teach us how to treat those we love in life -- like those we are dating or those we are married to.

It's a point that's being missed a lot, I think. It's tough to learn. It's tough to do. It's tough to hold yourself accountable to. But is it worth it? I would say it is, just based on limited observation. Even though there are certainly days where I wish I could suspend my own moral code and just reap the rewards everyone else seems to reap, I know that there are better things.

Those so-called rewards that everyone else is reaping aren't really rewards -- they're teases, tastes of things that those people will never be able to fully enjoy (I think).

Honor is required to fully enjoy them and, though it's certainly easy to confuse "being honorable" with "being a nice guy", don't: the two are different things. Honor is worth it, I think. At the end of the day, at the very least, it'll keep your soul in good shape and that's probably the most important benefit of honor there is.

Thanks for reading, folks. God Bless.

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