a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Our sacred Honor

Posted by Thomas Nephew on July 4th, 2005

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Our sacred honor. We mutually pledge to each other our sacred honor.

Two hundred and twenty nine years later, “honor” is not a word that’s used much in America any more. It’s hard not to think those final words of the Declaration of Independence are outdated and quaint. The word often isn’t merited, of course, but it’s often not even aspired to.

Some suspect we’re returning to an age of irony — it can seem the only defense against the repeated abuse or expropriation of important words like “freedom” or “democracy,” whether by Presidents or car salesmen, or against acts that make a mockery of the values we supposedly believe in. Irony is useful; it serves the need to laugh, the need to avoid crushing earnestness.

But irony is inadequate to face anything important for long. It’s inadequate to deal with revelations that your country was misled and lied to to goad it into war — and too many of your country’s citizens seem to shrug and call that “bad PR.” It’s inadequate to the knowledge that those liars would stoop to treason to smear their opponents. It doesn’t help you as you learn that your country is guilty of torture, and that too many of your country’s citizens seem not to care about that, either.

I’m trying to move beyond disappointment and irony to a kind of declaration of independence of my own. Were I to draft one, it might include a decent respect for the opinions of all mankind, but not an abject one. It would require me to thoroughly question every statement from my country’s political and opinion leaders, especially ones supporting war or diminished civil and human rights. It would require I never shrug my shoulders and turn away when my country does wrong, even and especially when my countrymen cheer that wrong or make excuses for it.

But this being a personal declaration, it would also use personal terms. It would require that I choose honor over irony, over apathy, and over apprehension.

And it could conclude by pledging that honor to return this country to the ideals it chose so long ago, and that it once defended for so long.

One Response to “Our sacred Honor”

  1. » Blog Archive » Our sacred Honor (repost) Says:

    […] ===== FIRST POSTED July 4, 2005. […]

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