Monday, August 08, 2005


"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!"

"If", Rudyard Kipling, 1909

So run the words of Kipling, defining what is a man. It's a definition I quite like, as it is universal, but...

What is a man? What makes a male a man, what makes a female a woman? It is not age, for I have known 14-year-olds who were twice the man some 30-year-olds will ever be. It is not rank and status in the world, for I know those of high rank and stature that perform shameful acts any true person of honor would feel shamed of.

It is honor. That is the key. It is not providing for those you love, for we all have times when we cannot. I know in some years hence, I will be essentially broke. If I am living with someone, I will be a drain on their finances, and I won't like it. That makes me no less a man.

I can sum it up simply, I think. Two Oaths I took many years ago, that ring more truly today than ever.

"On my Honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my Country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent."

So run the Oaths I took when I was 11, and so I live. That is my standard, and male or female, that is the standard I hope everyone tries to live to. That is what makes you a person of honor.


Blogger Bainwen Gilrana said...

You have clearly thought about this a lot.

No, obviously manhood and womanhood cannot be defined in terms of traditional "roles." The world has changed too much from the days when those traditions arose. But defining a person by their sense of honor and integrity, now that is something which could be useful. What a shame it is that the very concept of honor is fast becoming one that seems quaint and archaic to society at large!

8/10/2005 10:20 AM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

Sad, isn't it? A world where word was bond is rapidly becomingone where even signatures and seals are mutable.

8/11/2005 12:49 AM  

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