“You’ll follow through on your word.”
“Or no one will ever respect you.”
– Tamas & Taniel, The Autumn Republic
By Brian McClellan
Skipping all of the spoiler-filled details this late in McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy, I will simply say this is a moment where a father, Tamas, is instructing his son, Taniel, on the virtue of maintaining his integrity. Taniel has been in some tight spots, but he’s had friends to help him through them, in exchange for his word in fulfilling certain obligations at a later date. He’s finding the fulfillment of his oaths a bit uncomfortable, which leads to this quote, where he wants to defy his father’s order, but his father turns it into a teaching moment instead.
It’s a very good one, isn’t it?
When we think of people who keep their word, we acknowledge that as a redeeming virtue, often regardless of whatever failings they’ve manifested. There is something about us, as people, that knows how important and how valuable our honor really is. If you can’t trust someone, after all, then you can’t trust them.
If any man is unworthy of trust, is he worthy of respect?
How much “respect” do we give liars and cheaters and people who never keep their word? Not much. We may sometimes accord them honors in relation to other skills and accomplishments, but trust and respect? No.
Even liars do not respect fellow liars.
Quite the opposite, when they take such pains to justify themselves by proclaiming that surely no one is actually honest, they are just debasing everyone around them to excuse their own faults. They roll in the mud rather than rising above it, and they don’t hesitate to sling that mud in the face of a fellow mud-roller.
To be a man worthy of respect begins, first and foremost, with honesty. There may be no guarantee of others’ esteem, but, at the very least, an honest man can respect himself. A liar, not so much.