August 5th, 2002

Porcupine

Honor or conscience

It would save a bit of tragedy now and again if everyone understood this: Honor and conscience are mutually exclusive. One cannot live by both of them, any more than one can be a Christian atheist. They are two radically different ways of relating to the world.

Honor is based on what others think about us. Conscience is based on what we believe to be right. Up to a point, the actions of both can be the same. It is generally dishonorable to steal from your friends, and your conscience will protest against it too. But when others do not conform to your expectations, that's when the two differ. Honor will demand that you do something evil back, while conscience will insist that you stay good so as to not damage your own soul.