What About Honor?

I was listening to National Public Radio on the way to work this morning, and they were talking about the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs among Russian athletes in the Olympics and how reports showed that this was monitored and sanctioned by their anti-doping organization there. No surprises there, as there’s a common myth about Russian athletes using PEDs. But with what’s going on in professional sports these days in the United States, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see that the United States athletes were far behind. I’m not saying it’s happening; I’m just saying I wouldn’t be surprised.

And I think that’s part of the reason for the mindset among many of the students I teach. Next semester I’ll be teaching Media Law and Ethics, and inevitably it comes down to honor. What would you be willing to do if you knew you could get away with it? After all, what does the world do? Would you cheat on a test? Would you cheat on your taxes? Would you cheat on your spouse? Are we good only because we know the cop is out there ready to pull us over if we speed, or do we recognize the obligation we have to ourselves as well?

Honor seems to be an outmoded concept–at least to many of the students I talk to. And that frightens me. Because it’s one of the advantages that I think a Christian college like ours can offer that a secular college doesn’t deal with. There are many corporations that are looking for honorable businesspeople, workers they know will do what needs to be done without having to be supervised constantly, people who will do what’s right even when no one knows what they are doing. It’s something to look for in a new employee. And it’s something to cultivate and be proud of in yourself. Yes, Christianity gives us an edge, but you don’t have to be a Christian to be honorable. Just as you don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate true honesty.

Maybe because it seems to be so outmoded it will become more valuable. Something that is rare is often cherished that much more. And then, despite the faulty role models that surround them, students might see the benefit in being something more than just the minimum.