How Would You Define Honor?

Can the power of vague propaganda be combated with specificity? It seems I was not alone in seeing and hearing the Nazi-reminiscent word choices and themes in the “Restoring Honor” event on Saturday.

Patrick from Palingates raised a very good point:

…events like the one which happened today are crossing a line, and more importantly, many Americans don’t seem to notice it – probably because there is a lack of "sensitivity" to certain keywords, methods and images.

This is different in Europe, especially in Germany. It’s starts already with the title of the event: "Restoring honor."

It would be impossible that one of the main political parties in Germany to choose such a title for an event – because "honor" (in German: "Ehre") was one of the keywords of Nazi-ideology.

The word "honor" was used (and abused) by the Nazis for good reason. It’s very vague, can be interpreted in many ways and somehow appeals to patriotic emotions – but it’s quite difficult to establish what exactly it is, how it can be damaged, and how it can be restored.

However, one thing is clear: Nobody wants to be "without honor."

Perhaps the way to combat such propaganda is to make specific that which is vague. Sarah Palin, according to her speech, would have us define honor as birthing soldiers or being a soldier.

Is the only path to honor through the military?

There is no reason that we need to let the Tea Party or even the Republican Party define honor. The dictionary defines honor as “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions.”

Culturally, there does seem to be an element of sacrifice to the word “honor,” doesn’t there?

When I look to my own life and think of honorable people, I think of my father first. Yes, he was a soldier in the Korean war—two or three purple hearts—but if he’d ever been asked what the most honorable deeds of his life were, I’m fairly certain he would not have put war on his list. I do know that he withdrew from school to take care of his dying mother, sacrificing a dream to be a teacher in order to take care of family.

Perhaps I would define honor as “sacrificing in order to be honest, fair, and maintain integrity—even when it’s dangerous or inconvenient.”

I think of respecting the dignity of every human being, of every race, religion, and sexuality. I think of a social responsibility not just to protect our people through the use of military, but also to protect them from ignorance and crime through education, ill heath through accessible health care, and to honor each individual’s choice of religion—even if it may not be my own.

Even so, that definition is still too vague.

How do we know when we’ve achieved honor? I say it’s when every man and woman in the country has health care. When our five freedoms are consistently upheld. When all are free to marry. When our politics are not based upon racism. When the speeches of our politicians do not encourage hatred. When we don’t allow the greed of capitalism to let health institutions and food companies to cause ill health in our populace. When our international policies do not cause poverty in another country.

There is another definition of honor: “high public esteem.”

To that, I would hope that the United States would be once again known as an international PEACEmaker (and not through war), an example of tolerance and diversity, and an example of human freedoms (including freedom of religion).

How would you define honor? And if we are truly to set about “restoring honor,” what specific things would make you think we’ve restored our honor? What did I forget?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics | Tags:

On Restoring Honor

Once upon a time, people were poor. People were hungry. Children were hungry. Everyone was struggling and too many people were without jobs. Times were tough. A small political party formed, rooted in a call to freedom and economic reforms. Although first viewed as radical, as the economy tanked and unemployment rose, it gathered more and more attention.

The small, little party began to unite the struggling people in its promise of solutions. They promised to “restore honor” to the “one true” nation. They claimed that the economic difficulties and problems and sufferings of the people were caused by the undermining of the foundations of morality, faith, justice, and honor in their country.

They rose to power, promising to restore the nation to the principles upon which it had been founded, with "Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." They called its fellow patriots to protect the “sanctity of marriage,” patriots who were “linked by a solid rock foundation of faith in the one true God of justice.”

Their “highest mission [was] the securing of the right to live and the restoration of freedom to our nation… a State which must have equal rights. They called us to honor “the sacred charters of our liberty that all men are created equal.

Of course, they honored our soldiers and also their mothers. “No woman gives birth thinking she will hand over her child to her country,” but “every mother who has presented a child to the nation” was honored.

Yes, they celebrated their “love for our Army as the bearer of our arms and the symbol of our great past.” In honoring soldiers throughout their nation’s history, they remarked that “For 200 years those mystical cords have bound us to those who are willing to sacrifice to restrain evil, to protect god-given liberty, to sacrifice all in defense of our country.”

And they didn’t just honor the soldiers, but their fellow patriots, who would “never retreat” and “never capitulate.”

Are you not so proud?” Yes, their speeches and rallies filled the people with pride in their community, all the while reminding them that “none of us is too proud, none of us too high, none is too rich, and none too poor, to stand together before the face of the Lord and of the world in this indissoluble, sworn community!

Look around you! You are not alone! Let’s stand together and stand with honor! Let’s restore America!

Whose words am I quoting? Sarah Palin’s Restoring Honor speech on Saturday, the speeches of Adolf Hitler, particularly the one upon his appointment as chancellor in 1933, or BOTH? Am I telling the story of the Nazi Party or the Tea Party? Or both?

It was only one month after the above speech by Hitler that the first concentration camp opened. I encourage you to read the speeches of Hitler and notice how much you agree with.

Replace a few political details. Replace Jews with Muslims, homosexuals with LGBTQ, Gypsies with immigrants (legal, illegal, and those who merely LOOK like immigrants) and OTHER.

One of the most frightening horrors of the Holocaust was that good, decent people were led by a call to moral values, like pride and honor and justice: values that no good person could disagree with. They were united against a common enemy, a threat to their nation and their prosperity. The energy of rallies, of inspiring speeches that filled you with pride and faith and goodness, united as a nation in hope and purpose and belief.

Propaganda works because of course you believe in the propaganda. Yes, you agree with what they’re saying. How could you not? And you’re too busy rallying for the propaganda to notice what they’re doing. And why. The small details of their agenda aren’t important.

What’s most important is Pride! Honor! Justice! Equality! Morality! PATRIOTISM! They will bring us prosperity and take us out of these bad times!

National pride is good. It’s scary-powerful stuff. That is one of the lessons of the Holocaust. Propagandists would trick you into subconsciously believing that if you’re not for their political agenda, then you’re not a patriot—and an enemy of morality and virtue.

Not so.

Let us not be tricked.

National pride is neither inherently good or bad. Let’s look past its rallying cry to how our leaders would wield it.

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

Judgment & Opinions

I’ve really been feeling anti-judgment, lately. I’m just astonished at how much we judge everything. Constantly. We don’t even notice. Even little, tiny things.

Someone decides to get married? We must make a judgment on it. Everyone must have an opinion, and it must be FOR or AGAINST.

Someone wants to X route in their writing career? The community must make a judgment on how that’s either DUMB or the SMARTEST THING EVER.

Someone wants to feed the birds? We must all consider the possible ramifications and MAKE A JUDGMENT. And then DECLARE OUR OPINION.

(So here I go, making a judgment.)

In Kindergarten, we have to learn right and wrong and such. We start sorting things into black and white, because that’s how we understand the world. As we grow up, we start to recognize the gray area. We mature.

I’ve been thinking that the optimum time for a human being is in their early twenties or so, when they still recognize the gray area. Because it seems that as we get older, we start forgetting about the gray area. We start filing ourselves into FOR or AGAINST with everything. We get rigid in our thinking.

We de-mature to Kindergarten.

This is a generalization, of course, so it doesn’t apply to everyone. And I’ve often thought it doesn’t completely apply to writers and actors and the like, because we so regularly step into other people’s shoes.

I want to be about understanding, not about judgment. I don’t want to choose a side: I want to find a middle ground, or at least some way where we can let people live their lives, as long as it harms none.

The little judgments we make are astounding. And to have an opinion is a judgment, too. But a blog needs opinions. And I just seem to be flat out of those, lately. They make me tired, because then everyone will have to sort themselves into FOR or AGAINST.

What think you?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags: , ,

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