Monday, February 06, 2006

Too close to the edge

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
- Lois McMaster Bujold

While I like the idea of this quote, I disagree with its wording.

Reputation is what people *believe* about you. That may or may not bear close resemblance to the truth. What they think they know about you may be wrong.

What they believe is influenced by many factors, including selective experiences others have had with you, lies they may tell about you, snippets of information about you on which grand generalizations have been created and even false impressions you have purposely left with them.

Honour is itself a false concept based mostly on whatever amount of pride you take in some of your characteristics or in what others think of you. What is honour to one person may be nothing more than false pride to another.

Integrity is what tells who you really are. You may believe what you want about yourself, but your integrity will tell how close the life you live is to the core beliefs on which you were raised.

When you know you are doing something that is wrong (no matter what your excuses for doing so), you separate yourself from the values you were taught as a child, the values that most people in your own culture and community hold dear.

Eventually, that separatation will show itself as alienation, where most of your community rejects who you are because of what you do or say.

You may run from the basic beliefs of what is good and right among your people, but you can't hide from yourself. Eventually, you won't be able to hide from others either.

Short term indescretions often extend into long term grief.

Teach that to your children so they don't follow the tragic paths they see others taking.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to shine a light on what is good and right so that we don't stumble around in the darkness.
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