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Honor

"A Sense of What is Right, Just and True"

(See also Self-Control/Virtue, Accountability)

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The Need for Honor

How to Be Honorably

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Decide Where You Stand

Country music star Garth Brooks once said, 

''The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.'' (Country Music

I think what he's saying is that each of us need to clarify who we are and where we stand on the important issues of life. If we don't know where we stand, we end up making bad decisions as a result of peer pressure or the heat of the moment. Then, we end up with our lives in a mess, severely disappointed with ourselves. 

One high school student said, "Peer pressure's not that bad once you've made up your mind on your standards."   This student had thought through his non-negotiables - where he stood on issues like cheating, drugs and and how far he would go physically on a date. Perhaps he'd even written down his standards. So, when an opportunity to cheat came along, he could say to himself, "I've already made the decision not to cheat." When someone offered him drugs he wasn't forced to think it through on the spur of the moment. He'd already thought it through and decided that drugs weren't in his best interest. It really took the pressure off.

I think that's what famous author William Faulkner meant when he said,

"I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problems with decency and self-respect and whatever courage is demanded is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have in words what you believe and are acting from."

This week, let's think through where we stand on important issues. If you haven't written down your personal standards on some moral issues, why not? Thinking them through while there's no pressure is much better than waiting till the pressure's on.

Discussion Questions

1) What do you think Garth Brooks meant by his statement, ''The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.''?
2) How can life be easier once you've set your personal standards on moral issues?
3) What are some moral areas where students need to think through their own standards? 
4) This week, I challenge you to take some time to think through where you stand on these critical issues.  

Integrity in the Little Things

Astronauts aboard a trip of space shuttle Columbia were unable to make two scheduled space walks. The problem? A half-inch screw had fallen from its hole and lodged in the gears of the hatch.  So a small, half-inch screw foiled an important segment of an expensive mission. 

In the same way, seemingly small choices can ruin a person's life. It's often a lack of integrity in the small things, like copying a friend's homework or failing to keep a promise to a little sister, that cause major problems down the road. 

Have you made a promise that you haven't come through on? Do you tell "little white lies"? Do you cheat "just a little bit, but not nearly as much as others." 

Sometimes I think it's those "little things" that show our true character. This week, let's each take one of those "little areas," quit rationalizing about it and try to deal with it. It turn out to be the best thing you ever did. (© Copyright 2002 Steve Miller - All Rights Reserved. Source: (Atlanta Journal, Dec. 12, 1996)

Discussion Questions:

1) How did a 1/2 inch screw keep a space shuttle from accomplishing its mission?
2) What are some ways people try to justify their "small" character flaws? 
3) What are some integrity issues that students tend to consider "not that bad." (Lying about a reason for a late paper, stealing songs from the internet, copying somebody else's computer program, not telling "the whole truth" about an incident to parents.)
4) Think of something you tend to do that you know is wrong, but you tend to justify or discount as "not all that bad." Could you work on that area this week? 

The Need for Honor

Goodness is always an asset. A man who is straight, friendly and useful may never be famous, but he is respected and liked by all who know him. He has laid a sound foundation for success and he will have a worthwhile life. (Herbert N. Casson, Author)

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''Goodness is the only investment that never fails.'' (Henry David Thoreau)

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''The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.'' (Country music star Garth Brooks in Country Music)

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Some people say, ''It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you live consistently with it.'' Yet, Hitler believed that he was doing the world a favor by killing off ''lesser'' races and helping the ''superior'' Aryan race to dominate the earth. Osama Bin Laden believes that Allah wants him to kill people who don't believe like himself. Both Hitler and Bin Laden may have lived consistently with their beliefs. Yet, wrong beliefs lead to wrong actions. Having the right beliefs is critical. (Written by Steve Miller, Copyright Feb., 2003)

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In case you haven't noticed, we're growing up in the middle of a knowledge revolution. More information has been produced in the past 30 years than in the previous 5000. Now the amount of information available in the world's libraries and computers doubles every 5 to 8 years. (Reader's Digest, July '85, and Michael J. McCarthy, Mastering the Information Age, from tape series) Yet, in the midst of the knowledge revolution, we seem to have a wisdom deficit. It's like people can't distinguish the truth from the lies, the wacky from the wise. For example,

In March, 1997, 39 people committed mass suicide. They were all members of a New Age cult called ''Heaven's Gate,'' which taught that people could rise to a ''Level Beyond Human'' by riding a spaceship into the heavens. ''What a senseless tragedy?'' most people would say. ''If only they had been educated enough to know better.'' But that's the catch. Some of them were educated. LaDonna was a successful 37-year-old computer programming whiz and outstanding violinist. Margaret was so brilliant that she graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in three years with a triple major in math, German and computer science. (USA TODAY, March 31, 1997, p. 2A)

It's not enough to be educated in academics. We must be educated in moral discernment and virtue. (Written by Steve Miller, Copyright Feb., 2003)

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Famous author C.S. Lewis wrote, "Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ''it's not fair'' before you can say Jack Robinson. It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may sometimes by mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table."

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It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. (Roy Disney, Former Vice Chairman of Walt Disney Co.)

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There's harmony and inner peace to be found in following a moral compass that points in the same direction regardless of fashion or trend. (Ted Koppel, long-time host of Nightline)

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Astronauts aboard a trip of space shuttle Columbia were unable to make two scheduled space walks. The problem? A half-inch screw had fallen from its hole and lodged in the gears of the hatch. (Atlanta Journal, Dec. 12, 1996) So a small, half-inch screw foiled an important segment of an expensive mission. In the same way, it's often lack of integrity in the small things, like copying a friend's homework or failing to keep a promise to a little sister, that cause major problems down the road. (© Copyright 2002 Steve Miller - All Rights Reserved)

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A tiny pebble in your shoe will eventually halt a march as effectively as a greater injury. So root out the ''small'' vices that are easy to justify and hang on to.

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What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How to Be Honorable

Donít Blindly Follow the Crowd

Madness is rare in individuals--but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. (Existential Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche)

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In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principal, stand like a rock. (Thomas Jefferson)

Be Open to the Truth

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light. (Plato)

Grow Brave by Reflection

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. [Thomas Paine (1737-1809)]

Know Where You Stand

''I firmly believe that any organization, in order to survive and achieve success, must have a sound set of beliefs on which it premises all its policies and actions. Next, I believe that the most important single factor in corporate success is faithful adherence to those beliefs. And, finally, I believe if an organization is to meet the challenge of a changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself except those beliefs as it moves through corporate life.'' (Thomas J. Watson, Jr., former Chairman of IBM)

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I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problems with decency and self-respect and whatever courage is demanded is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have in words what you believe and are acting from. (Famous author William Faulkner)

Don't Go to Extremes

There are those who believe something, and therefore will tolerate nothing; and on the other hand, those who tolerate everything, because they believe nothing. (Robert Browning)

Watch Your Intake

What we think, we become. (Buddha)

Find and Emulate Honorable People

I hear experts train bankers to detect counterfeit money by thoroughly acquainting them with the real money. They master what authentic money feels like, how the fine detail looks, etc. Because the more they know the look and feel of the real thing, the more likely they are to spot a forgery when it comes along. So, the best way to familiarize ourselves with an honorable life is to find honorable people and watch them.

Need more resources on "Honor"? Try our related traits: Self-Control/Virtue, Accountability .