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The Controversial Concept of Honor

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“Dishonor! Dishonor on you! Dishonor on your cow!” Nearly everybody has seen Mulan or at least has heard of the scene in which Mushu, the dragon, declares this iconic quote. Most people brushed this moment off as an attempt to find humor in an archaic concept by Disney, but in actuality, the concept of honor is highly ubiquitous (and rather controversial) in pretty much every time period and place, including current day America. Why do I say controversial? That stems from the definition of honor itself. Oxford dictionary, and well most of society in general, consider honor to be an adherence to doing what is right. But that’s where the problems start. Is there really any “right” way to do things, at least right in a way that everybody agrees with? Even among groups of similar people such as NHS, where all members are alike in work-ethic, there will be radically differing opinions on pretty much everything. What I may consider to be the right thing to do may be considered completely unethical by someone else. So does that mean I should just refrain from taking any action to avoid doing something that may considered wrong? Absolutely not.

Constantly, people complain about how politicians always speak about their values and goals for their term as an elected official but these said politicians never seem to act on it. Or rather, when they do, they refuse to even acknowledge, much less take responsibility for the people they hurt. This is the world that us, NHS members, or more like, our generation is entering. These people (including me), these authors of all the essays you’re currently reading are going to become these politicians, these leaders, but hopefully, with a sense of honor. It’s one thing to preach an ideal, but an entirely different thing to stand by it even if it means you must take responsibility, and it is the latter that most appropriately demonstrates honor.

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If there was any word I’d use to describe society, I’d call it fluid; trends come and go and mindsets do the same. What was once considered fallacious and unconventional is now considered common sense and, in fact, not doing or knowing such would be considered bizarre. And how is this transition made? Not just through physical evidence and logical reasoning but simply the mere presence of a person who tried to do what they thought was right and dealt with the consequences. Take Malala Yousafzai for example. Malala is considered to be an exceptionally honorable woman (and has been honored with a Nobel Peace Prize) for not only her admirable mission, but more so for her steadfastness in sticking with her objectives despite all the ramifications. So for me, and most likely the rest of the NHS applicants, who wonders what difference could I possibly make on society, acting with honor would be my best bet.

Honor is a highly regarded word and is considered valuable because it does not last. Honor, the idea of standing up for one’s principles and handing whatever comes after, contributes to our unending education.

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