The Adult Gordon’s View of Honor

Excerpt from a discourse delivered at the First Parish in Bedford, by a member of the Parish, Gordon G. Evans, January 16, 1972.

All the same, I stubbornly hope that the concept of honor is not dead. I would like to see it revived and, to free it from some of the confusions that have brought it so near oblivion, I would like to see it viewed as an inner compulsion only. As some of you know, I  firmly believe in the ultimate importance of the individual in human affairs; I want to reassert each person’s responsibility to control his own actions in accordance with a fixed set of standards which he has consciously adopted, and not merely to behave as others say he should so long as they are watching.

These are the standards I think everyone should set for himself; this is what I mean by honor:

Not to take advantage of another person. This means freely to accept gifts freely given (and I include the gift of love), but not to use circumstances to force from another what he will not freely give; not “to make a bond of love;” not to violate children’s independence; not to cheat; not to make personal phone calls on the company telephone—yes, I consider that a point of honor—; not intentionally to damage another person’s property; not to be silent when others make errors in one’s favor.

Again, to keep one’s word unless released by mutual agreement; or at the very least, and only in extreme cases, to say openly that one is unable to keep it. This means to fulfill promises, to whomever made; to do what one has said one will do regardless of physical fear or financial loss; to remain faithful to one’s spouse, if this was stated in the marriage ceremony.

Third, in one’s decisions concerning what is right, not to be influenced either by personal advantage or by whether others will know of the decision.

And last—for the list is not long—, to respect the honor of another; not to urge anyone else to do what conflicts with his sense of what is right.