“Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.”, This quote by Lois McMaster Bujold puts an interesting perspective on the term “honor”. He points out that honor is something that comes from within. It is up to the individual to present his or her honor to others and make it their reputation. Honor, in my own terms, is having high esteem and regard for oneself and for others. The presentation of honor is fairly consistent throughout history. We continuously see people who outwardly present honor being held in high regard by not only our nation, but our world. People like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abigail Adams have all been iconic figures in our nations history, as people who helped us develop into our current state, and honor is a word that is often used to describe their success.They stood for themselves, as well as for others, and that is what makes them honorable.
Honor, being a trait that is so important to our world’s development, is most clearly represented through the life and the actions of Mohandas Gandhi, the face of the movement for Indian independence. As a man of Hindu culture, Gandhi had to fight in order for him to freely practice his beliefs, changing the world so that he could live happily. The most interesting and perhaps most honorable part of Gandhi’s “fight” is that it was not the kind of fighting that you might assume, being that it was entirely peaceful! In addition to this, his fight was fought with much more than himself in mind. He stood for the people of the world. He was more than inwardly honorable. Gandhi’s honor shined and became his life, as well as his worldwide reputation. Through this, Gandhi not only meets Lois McMaster Bujold’s definition of honor, but mine as well, holding himself high and lifting others. Honor is something that has become a pattern throughout history, as we will see when examining the life of another iconic man, Martin Luther King Jr.
Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s (and arguably today), the Civil Rights Movement called for leaders with honor, leaders that would say what needed to be said in an affective way. For these leaders to be honorable, they needed more than just a loud voice. They needed to have the passion and life experience to get the message across. Martin Luther King Jr. was surely one of the most well known people to do this. Being a man of color, he felt that it was imperative to stand for himself. Being a human being, he thought it was important to stand for those who could not stand for themselves. That is what made him honorable, his intentions stretched much further than selfishness. Looking back in history, there were also women that led lives of honor, one in particular being Abigail Adams.
In a world controlled by men, the fight for women’s rights throughout the 1800’s was a fight of major controversy. This battle required women who were willing to break from the norm and stand up for what they wanted. Women such as Abigail Adams had to act with honor in order to reach their goal of equality. Abigail Adams, being a woman married to one of our nation’s most influential men, John Adams, was in a position where her words were more easily heard by the masses. She took full advantage of this by practically mothering the Women’s Rights movement in the 1800’s, giving a voice to women who were seldom heard. Abigail is a perfect example of a person with honor because she had every reason not to do what she did. She did not have to risk her reputation, stand up for her fellow women, or raise her voice to the most powerful people around her, but she did because she knew it was right and she knew it needed to be done in order for our nation to progress.
Today, we honor people who made positive life and culture changes for themselves and for the people around them. Honorable people outwardly display high esteem for themselves and others, they radiate a will to fight for what they believe to be right. As has been said, people such as Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abigail Adams all qualify under the category of honor. They changed the world for not only their own benefit, but for the benefit of others as well. There is no doubt that all of these people have gone and will go down in history as honourable. The true question remaining is, are honorable people trained to act they way they do, or is it innate?
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