Honour. Something we are to attain. Something we covet. We want to be honoured. We want to be honourable. Two different things I think. Being honourable has humility combined (and humility is a large part of that honour). But a desire to be honoured is an indication of pride. In reading British literature, you see great importance placed on honour (apparently Americans and Canadians care more about winning than being honourable). J In some British literature, you see this strong sense of honour being mocked. It seems this honour is tied directly to the sense of duty. To be honourable is to fulfil your duty to the very end. In fact, I think sometime honour and duty are interchanged. Take, for example, this excerpt from Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, Part 1, Act 5, Scene 1:
Hal, if thou see me down in the battle and bestride me, so; ‘tis a point of friendship.
Nothing but a colossus can do thee that friendship.
Say thy prayers, and farewell.
I would ‘twere bedtime, Hal, and all well.
Why, thou owest God a death.
Exit PRINCE HENRY
‘Tis not due yet. I would be loath to pay Him before His day. What need I be so forward with Him that calls not on me? Well, ‘tis no matter. Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honour set to a leg? No. Or and arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is honour? A word. What is in that word “honour”? what is that “honour”? Air. A trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. ‘Tis insensible, then? Yea. to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon. And so ends my catechism.
So we see Falstaff having a conversation with himself after being given an implied order from Prince Henry. Honour (and duty) will spur him on he says, but what if honour changes it’s mind and spurs him off? Then he would end up dead! So he wonders what the point of honour is. It has no practical use. And you loose it when you die (you don’t have honour when you’re dead). And, he claims, you can’t have honour when you live either because “detraction will not suffer it”, meaning, basically, slander will not allow it. Slander ruins a man’s reputation and removes all honour from him. To some degree, I agree. If you were once a person of honour and people slander you, you loose that honour in the eyes of many and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to gain that honour back. No matter how much you try! So, what then, do we say with Falstaff “I’ll have none of it”? No. Honour is still important. If not in the eyes of man, then in the eyes of God. So we live lives of honour and so glorify Him in all we do. No matter what the world says!
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