Sunday, August 4, 2013

You are your words

I'm a bit miffed while writing this, a couple of things have transpired in a group I belong to, where folks have said unbelievable, stupid things, are called out on it and held accountable for their words. In a community where the bulk of interactions are through an electronic medium, you are your words. People can not judge you by the things you do outside of the context with which they have shared experiences with you. Regardless of how much of a decent person you claim to be, or how much you speak of virtues like honour, if you act like a dick when I'm around, a dick you will remain.

I'm starting to think, really believe, that for many people concepts like honour are just so totally foreign, that they have no idea what the word even means. They believe they do, but their actions/interactions, say otherwise. I think the problem comes down to rampant romanticism coupled with a wholly separate notion of the concept. From a GRP perspective, honour is "what is known", your value is determined by what you do, who you are, and some other mitigating factors which are not applicable/ appropriate in a modern context. Yes, it is related to someone as an individual, but it is the reputation of that individual within the context of a given community, that creates the concept of honour. It is not a self proclaimed, individualistic, value judgement. You can make the claim that you are honourable, but it is determined by others. Honour is a communal value, and this is where I think the divorce from the concept occurs. Because the hyperindividualism which is the core of  so much of the modern, Western image of the "self", overshadows every perspective on value and ethics, this can be something which is lost on those who have only a tertiary understanding of the ethical underpinnings of GRP.

It isn't enough to read the wisdom texts, because you need to understand why the values which are espoused in them, matter. If you lack that, then you'll come away from them with many a misguided notion of proper conduct, with platitudes and trite quips, instead of wisdom and understanding.

Honour walks hand in hand with responsibility, and if you tit about and do something dishonourable, it is your responsibility to fix it. Yours and no one else. At least from a practical standpoint; since honour is a communal value and by proxy your dishonourable behaviour reflects on your group, it may be their burden as well to make proper restitution. Within the context of the core group one belongs to, however, it is entirely upon yourself.

Forgiveness has its place, but it is a tertiary value and it is certainly not the moral underpinning of our world view. Given the centrality of it within Christianity, and so within the general cultural milieu, I get that it can be difficult to divorce oneself from it, but it has to be done if there is any chance of developing a different perspective. Honour can not flourish if the moral underpinning is "we are all equally terrible, and so have no basis to make judgements upon others."

So if you decide, even brashly, to make a statement, you had better be prepared to deal with whatever consequences transpire. If you made a mistake, it is upon you to rectify it. Do not expect others to be forgiving, especially where forgiveness has not been earned. Accept the responsibility your actions have, and the repercussions of those actions.

Words, once spoken, can not be taken back. Our ancestors understood this, we should do likewise.