Sunday’s Wisdom #276: Honor Oneself

“In the end, no one except the Peeps would know what she did and how she did it, nor would the way she conducted herself mean a thing to anyone… except her. That was the crux of it.”
– from In Enemy Hands, by David Weber

Many times, in my commentaries, I have mentioned how storytellers need to let their characters hit rock bottom and actually feel the pain of the impact. In the saga of Honor Harrington, by David Weber, he repeatedly finds new, inventive ways to bring his heroes down, and then help them climb back up, better and stronger than they were before. That climb, however, must always necessarily begin in the same way: within oneself.

At this point in the story, the central protagonist (the saga’s titular Honor Harrington) has been captured by the enemy. Even worse, however, she has been seized on by the very worst and most despicable faction within the enemy’s ranks. For them, the idea of killing her, after tormenting and breaking her, is just the sort of treat that will make their day, and brag about for years to come. She is at the lowest point she has ever been at, and she’s barely keeping it together even as she’s slowly falling to pieces.

In an hour so dark as this, filled with indignity, abuse, pain, danger, and imminent death, the only choice left to her is how to conduct herself.

One might well ask why it would even matter. Anything inspiring in the example she might set would inevitably be suppressed. Even her strong sense of honor and duty to her monarch, her comrades, and the people of her nation could only carry her so far. These are external considerations, and thus ultimately void when everything external is stripped away.

Only the internal, springing from that most intimate and personal thing which we call, “self,” can remain when everything else is gone. So Honor learns, in her darkest hour yet, about who she really is, and intends to be, even if she is the only one who will ever know or care. What others think of her behavior is not so important. She has a duty to herself, first and foremost.

With nothing else left to her, she chooses to honor what she owes to herself: to be her very best, even until death.

It is the source of a new, powerful resolve, and a firm, unbreakable (though the enemy tries their hardest) strength of character.

It is a strength of self which is most pivotal to one’s disposition, and one who possesses it may endure… though not always survive… even the worst Hell that the world throws at them.

Indeed, one must often pass through said Hell to gain that strength in the first place.

How poetic it is, that one must often be broken in order to reform into something unbreakable.

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5 Responses to Sunday’s Wisdom #276: Honor Oneself

  1. ospreyshire says:

    That’s it some good wisdom, but I’m personally still waiting to be unbreakable and for others to see the strengths of my character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merlin says:

      I don’t think it’s something you wait for, exactly. I think it’s more something that you grow into. But I believe I see some strengths in your character, including your principles, your willingness to keep learning if you are wrong, and your endurance of ungracious treatment from those who disagree with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire says:

        I kind of wondered about that. It does make sense about growing into that. However, there’s been a sense of fear in me to not make mistakes and to not look like the bad guy which is how I’ve been treated even for minor things when I don’t see others treated the same way.

        Thank you. I’m certainly still learning about so many things. I do have principles on various matters and it’s a miracle that I kept going despite being bullied or shamed. Part of me wanted to do the same to others like to “punish” people with facts, but it has rarely ever happened and I have a hard time making insults. Thanks, Merlin.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Merlin says:

        You’re welcome! 🙂

        Heh, and I’d say having a hard time making insults may not be very gratifying in the moment, but it’s hardly a bad thing. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire says:

        Sure thing.

        I sure hope so. I was never one to intentionally try to hurt other’s feelings or to make someone feel bad. It’s something I actually have to put effort, but most of the time I say nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

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