Honor is the defining quality of a warrior. It is also the defining quality of a real man, for a human male who does not live with honor is more a child than a man, a coward than a warrior. Honor is what holds a man steady in times of tribulation, as well as in times of plenty.
It is what gives him the respect of both his enemies, and his allies. It is what makes him a good father, husband, and friend, always. As honor becomes less apparent and a less valued characteristic in our modern man we suffer, our society decays.
Honor is a characteristic that is being ripped from our society. As humanity is being replaced by the machine, honor leaves the battlefield. A war needs a just cause, without it, war is senseless. It also needs honor.
The coward who straps a bomb to the back of a youth, and sends him to a crowded market, feels as though he has a just cause he is fighting for; however delusional and disgusting it may be, he feels justified.
What he does not act with, however, is honor. He is faceless. Spineless. He does not have the heart, nor the spine, to fight another armed man – the actual object of his hate – so he kills the unarmed, the innocent, through a human vessel he is coerced.
King Agis was shown a new catapult, which could shoot a killing dart 200 yards.
When he saw this, he wept. “Alas,” he said. “Valor is no more”. ~ From The Warrior Ethos
Honor is not merely being taken from battle, but from every facet of our lives. Sport is one of the few honorable institutions left in the world. It is a training and proving ground for our young men, where they are taught to value hard work, discipline, and respect.
It is where men meet in competition, the man whose preparation was the greatest usually wins; or does he?
Last night I watched the best basketball player in the world, Lebron James, flop and embellished every bump and collision he was involved in. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird would never act like such a child; like such a fool.
They may have trash talked, pushed, and punched, but they did so with honor. They did it face-to-face, without cheating. They let their 10,000 + hours of hard work lead them to victory, or an honorable defeat.
When I was a kid, my old man always made me own up to my mistakes, and there were many an opportunity to do so. It was not the mistake that angered him, it is how I responded to it that could.
Would I man up and accept responsibility, or would I blame the other guy, look for an easy way out, or even lie?
Today, the truth is rarely spoken, few stand up and take responsibility for anything, and men of honor are a relic, just like the sword, and the pen.
A man has honor
I have written multiple articles on the topic of being a real man, a warrior, or an alpha male. I have listed characteristics, defining inner qualities, and attributes that a guy must possess if he is to be called any of the three.
Of all the characteristics mentioned, there is none as important, nor as scarce, as honor.
Honor is the defining quality that distinguishes weak men and cowards, from great men, and Legendary warriors. It is with honor that a man stands firm when all else around him crumbles, when all those around him lie, cheat, and move drastically away from the people they are within their souls.
Honor is what keeps a man firm and true. Today’s enemy is rarely seen, you know where a man of honor stands without him having to say a word.
It is honor that makes a man’s spirit pure, his actions just. Honor is what makes a man a good friend. It is what makes him trustworthy and loyal. It is he whom we call when we are down on our luck, our backs against the wall, and we need someone to have our back and no one else will.
The man with honor is honorable and just to both his friends and enemies, because honor does not waver.
A man with honor holds the same values and virtues close in times of plenty, and times of tribulation.
Anyone can be a warrior for a day, a real man for a month, or an alpha male for a year, but to be those things always, requires honor. Yet so few have it in today’s society, it is no wonder that there is such a loud cry for real men.
We need them. We want them. We can not find them anywhere. As honor leaves us, real men follow suit.
Honor killed by weakness
The insecurity of the modern man has led to his weakness, spinelessness, and utter lack of honor. This insecurity is something we have created. It is a learned trait, not an innate one. It has been bread into our sons, beaten into our men.
Men of today try to fill the void left by insecurity with displays of excess and overt power, yet are too afraid to be in the arena themselves. They want to show they have more money than everyone else, the truth is usually somewhere in between.
They want to show they are strong men, but true strength is internal. Insecurity is what leads men to beat women and abuse children. It is weakness. Strength leads men to protect them.
There was a time when a man was responsible for not only himself, but his family. There still are men that take this responsibility with pride, but they are fewer in number than ever before.
There was a time when a boy was responsible for his own financial health at a young age, but that too has changed. We give to our children before they have learned what it means to earn. As they grow up, they want, but they do not want to do the work needed to earn what they want.
Then the government gives, without people earning what they are receiving.
There was a time when a boy stood up to a bully with his fists. He may earn a bloody nose, even a broken bone in doing so, but those scars were earned and worn with pride. Today our society rewards weakness more than it does strength.
The bullies of today cut others down with words, and the boy who stands and fights is scolded more than the bully who attacks the psyche, the emotions of his peers.
There was a time when a bully would give you a wedgie or stuff you in a locker – I call those the good old days. Today, a bully makes you feel worthless, shuns you from your peers, singles you out, makes fun of how you dress, talk, or look.
A victim of bullying can not defend against that hate with mere words, he needs physical justice. But we have taken the physical justice out of our schools, the honor out of our kids. With the change of the nature of bullying has come a change in the nature of the retaliation to it.
We have not taught our sons strength, be it the bully or the victim, both act with weakness, and we all suffer as a result.
Today physical violence does not involve a fist, but a knife or a gun wielded by a coward too weak to stand and fight on his own. He did not have a father to teach him how to do so, or to scold him for acting with weakness.
Or, he had a father, but that father is a coward as well, and is too absent in his sons life to realize the coward he is raising.
My dad was not so disappointed by my mistakes as by was how I reacted to them if that reaction was not honorable. He understood that mistakes are what a boy will make, and how he will learn. But if I made a mistake, I had to own up to it, confess it, be a man about it.
If I lied, passed the blame to another, or looked for the easy way out, that would bring about his greatest disappointment, and there’s nothing a son would not want to do more than disappoint his old man.
As a result, I made plenty of mistakes, but I always owned up to them.
Cowards are normal
There have always been cowards, men of honor have always been the minority, but in years past we were given more opportunity to develop honor because of the harshness of the times they developed in.
Today we breed cowards because we encourage weakness. The life expectancy has never been greater, the ease at which we can live has never been more accessible, conflict has never been so hidden and cunning and devious.
We tear one another down with gossip, we fight back in the same manner.
The world sits idly by as the innocent are being slaughtered. As innocence is being taken from our youth far too early, far too often. We do not defend the weak, because most men are weak.
Our society helps develop weakness through bail-outs where we fail, but we are not allowed to feel the sting of that failure. We are not allowed to develop the internal calluses and toughness that come only from learning how not to do things.
Our society develops weakness by removing the physicality from our childhood’s, from our sports, and from our wars.
There is a reason why sports like boxing are used to teach kids discipline, to get them off the streets, to teach them honor and hard work and sacrifice, but also to let them experience pain, defeat, and a physical consequence for their mistakes.
As a kid, Mike Tyson used to rob old women in daylight. He had faced gunfire, knife attacks, you name it. But the scariest thing he had ever faced was another trained fighter standing across from him in the ring.
There were no weapons, there was no escape. He had to man up and fight, and risk getting beaten up, for the first time in his life.
Young men need competition to develop honor. Knowing what is right and what is wrong is not enough, it has to be tested in situations where cheating, lying, and steeling may even be rewarded with victory.
In the end, those who live with honor leave a legacy, those who lie, cheat, and flop to get ahead, do not.
The excuse, well his heart is good, or, you know he is a good person deep down, is used far too often. Good intensions are nothing, they are useless. Good actions are all that matters. There is no such thing as a ‘good person’ who does not act as such, even if his heart is in the right place.
Actions matter. Intentions do not.
Honor through pain
Values like honor, courage, and valor can not be developed by someone who lives an easy life. They are only forged in pain and struggle and failure. There are two groups that can never be true warriors, nor real men:
Those that never extend themselves beyond their comfort zones, or move towards their greatest fears.
Those that never accept responsibility for their own actions, their own success in life, and their own happiness.
Honor is something that has to be branded on our souls if we are truly going to live by it at all times. It can not be a temporary tattoo, it has to be a permanent one. The only way we can be men of honor is to extend ourselves beyond what we can currently accomplish.
We have to put ourselves through a great degree of discomfort as we face our fears in life, in business, even socially and physically. We have to be put in to – or place ourselves in – situations where there is an easy way out, one that most take, but to be a man of true honor, we have to take the hard road, the honorable road.
We can not be “the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better.” We must be “the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errors and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
Defeat is not the enemy. Cowardly defeat is, just like a cowardly win is. Defeat can be a great teacher. Losing honorably builds character, much like winning honorably does the same. But we have to be in the arena to develop honor and courage and character.
No man can be a warrior giving orders from the sideline, if the giving of those orders were not first earned in the battlefield. No man can be a leader, if his leadership was not first earned in the face of tribulation, in the conquering of his fears.
It is in facing our fears, stepping out from our comfort zone, and taking responsibility for our actions – good or bad – and for our lives that we develop and live with honor. Almost any bad deed is forgivable if we make an effort to change, and own up to the mistake we made.
Be a man of honor, we need you to be. Teach your sons to be the same. The world is a hard place, somehow it is being run and populated by more and more weak men, let us change that. Let us make success something that must be attained with honor, by not applauding those who do so otherwise.
Let us hold ourselves accountable, first, but others as well. The world needs more men with grit, more hard, honorable men. Stand up. Rise up. Be one of the few. Be Legendary.