A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
year (2013) I wrote an article concerning honor. I did so, because I
have come to believe that Americans have forgotten what honor is and why
it is immeasurably valuable for individuals, organizations, and for
I am unashamedly "Southern." WE Southerners used to
be famed for our honor. Indeed, we had a Southern Code of Honor. It
was real, not a myth, as many modern writers would have you believe. I
grew up into manhood steeped in that code of honor and to this day,
make every effort to live my life, including my dealings with others and
even my conversation, within the bounds of that honor code.
Often thought antiquated, quaint, and even silly, the execution of my interpretation of the code of honor has served me well.
said all the above, allow me to say that I am deeply concerned for our
country as I am convinced that our national leaders -- from the Oval
Office to the halls of Congress to the US Supreme Court -- have lost
sight of the lofty pinnacles of honor. Frankly, I question whether they
even know what honor really is, anymore.
The phrase: "I take
full responsibility for (fill in the blank)" is, itself these day, a
demonstration of their less than stellar understanding of what personal
honor requires. It requires actually TAKING RESPONSIBILITY and then
making every effort to repair the wrong or harm that has been done, and
then, after making amends, removing oneself from the position of power
from which one executed one's less than honorable action, or inaction.
Nowadays, anything past uttering the words:
"I take full responsibility..." never happens.
I offer again a piece entitled: "What Is This "Honor" Stuff, Anyway?" I
offer it in the hope that somehow it will spark a return to an
honorable America and leaders who understand and practice honor in their
dealings with their constituents -- and with other nations around the
Here then is: "What Is This "Honor" Stuff, Anyway?"
What Is This "Honor" Stuff, Anyway?
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
"Honor is simply the morality of superior men." ... H. L. Mencken.
"National honor is the national property of the highest value." ... James Monroe
was a big thing in my family. Many were the times my father lectured
me on family honor, on "reputation," and maintaining a "good name." He
often explained to me that when all the extraneous stuff is finally
boiled away, all a man really owns is his "good name."
sorely afraid we Americans, as a people, have forgotten the importance
of honor. In fact, I sometimes feel we have lost our connection to
honor, somehow, and we don't even understand the concept of principled
uprightness of character and personal integrity.
seem to no longer have a connection to our oft-touted "Code of Honor."
When we refer to the Field of Honor these days folks automatically
think of an athletic field rather than a remote area reserved for a
contest of honor, a duel, to defend one's honor, or the honor of a
maiden fair, or something equally as important.
Code of Honor was a code of integrity, dignity, and pride, chiefly among
men -- but -- it most assuredly applied to our women folk, as well.
The North had its code of honor, as well --
"the Northern code of honor was very much like that of Victorian
England: a standard predicated on civility, piety, morality, Stoicism,
and hard work." Source: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/11/12/manly-honor-part-iv-the-gentlemen-and-the-roughs-the-stoic-christian-code-of-honor-in-the-american-north/
to the multiple differences that divided the northern and southern
cultures, however, there was a HUGE difference. The northern code
allowed for a man to walk away from a fight with his honor undented,
while just the opposite was true for the southerner. As we shall see,
once challenged, for a southerner to walk away from a fight, a duel, was
for more damaging to him, his reputation, and that of his family, than
showing up for the duel and getting himself killed. Having a family
member killed in a duel was a badge of honor for some southern families.
the early days of the War for Southern Independence, a moderately sized
town just twenty miles, or so, from my hometown was forced to
establish what was then known as "Honor Courts," in which disputes
between two men -- about to duel to the death -- were tried. Both
parties swore to abide by the Court's ruling. The town's crop of young
men was dangerously close to being wiped-out by the combination of the
war and duels.
To understand the importance of honor amongst the southern gentry, one must understand southern society.
Southern aristocracy was about one notch below European nobility. Some would argue it was the equal of European aristocracy.
was very little cash money circulating within the southern plantation
system. Monetary worth was based on ownership of land, on crops,
cattle, and yes, slaves. Financing such huge operations often relied
upon the barter system.
Contracts were often sealed with a
promise (a man's word) and a handshake. THAT was considered sacred.
That promise, a man's word, and that all important handshake, crossed
all societal lines in the south. It was a measure of a man's honor, his
good name, how well he kept his word. Southern culture was, indeed, a
culture of honor.
A southern gentleman exuded courtesy.
Status, courage, family, and the all important relationship between
shame and pride were all integral parts of the formula for the character
of a true southern gentleman.
And there was something else, something we have way too little of today. It was something called "R E S P E C T."
Respect is a form, a way, if you will, of demonstrating one's honor for
someone, some thing, or some entity, idea, or what not. Among men,
respect is earned and not easily -- or carelessly -- given. It has
often been said that to gain respect one must give respect.
Lest you think the southern code of honor is a myth, consider this: "Laboratory
research has demonstrated that men in honor cultures perceive
interpersonal threats more readily than do men in other cultures,
including increases in cortisol and testosterone levels following
insults." SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_honor_%28Southern_United_States%29
true Southern Gentleman would never insult a woman. He was/is always
careful to be chivalrous towards women, in words and deeds. Insulting a
lady in the presence of a Southern Gentleman has been known to bring
violent retribution down on the heads of the offending low-life. Those
who understand the southern culture of honor understand that the kind,
courteous, respectful gentleman can, in the twinkling of an eye, bring
down retributive violence -- with great alacrity -- and -- without
notice. He is always prepared to resort to violence if, and when, the
situation requires it.
Now, gentle reader, all the above is from the perspective of a born and bred, very proud, southern male ... namely -- me.
C. S. Lewis once said: "We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst." (The Abolition of Man)
I broach the subject to remind us all that there is such a thing as national honor, too.
have often thought that courage and honor are forever linked to one
another. That would apply to national courage and honor as well as to
that of individuals. Aristotle said: "You will never do anything in
this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind NEXT TO HONOR."
The state motto of the state of North Carolina is: "To be, rather than to seem." I have often wondered if that motto was based upon one of Socrates' pearls of wisdom -- namely -- this one: "The greatest way to live with HONOR in this world is to be what we pretend to be."
pains me to acknowledge that America's national honor has been badly
besmirched in the last few days by the actions -- and inactions -- of
the one man responsible for protecting that honor.
It is our
contention, President Obama should offer his resignation and step down
from office. In doing so he would preserve SOME of the respect his
fellow Americans had for him prior to the Syrian/Russia debacle.
Doug Patton, in an article published at Canada Free Press entitled: "The Most Embarrassing President of My Lifetime" says the following: "Obama
is a symbol of much of today’s generation, which accepts no
responsibility for anything. Therefore, when something goes wrong among
his cockamamie plans, it must be someone else’s fault. Usually, of
course, it would be George Bush’s fault, but even Obama couldn’t bring
himself to tell that one again, not in this case. No, this time it’s the
whole world’s fault. And Congress. And America. It’s American
credibility that will suffer, he told the world, not his. Unbelievable." SOURCE: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/57727
Mr. Patton is spot-on! Mr. Obama demonstrates ZERO knowledge of honor, personal and/or national honor.
Friedrich Schiller reminded us all that: "That nation is worthless which does not joyfully stake everything on her honor."
America's debasement in the eyes of the world is a stinging insult, a back-handed rebuke to every citizen of America.
Honor demands Mr. Obama step down.
© J. D. Longstreet