Is it me, or do you rarely hear people these days talking about ‘honour’? It was a ‘given’ in our childhood – the honour of our country, the honour of our school, don’t let the family down because it will affect our honour …
You do hear it sometimes: from some Oscar winners, for instance. ‘This is a great honour’ … but it is an honour for them personally.
I was thinking about this in relation to Murdoch et al. His apparent absence of interest in ‘honourable’ journalism opened the door to all sorts of ‘dishonourable’ ways of behaving for some of his staff. And if you have no sense of honour, then you may have no sense of shame either, of having done something wrong, of being in a position where an apology should be made. Indeed, Murdoch is said to have laughed when the ‘Hitler Diaries’ story turned out to be a sham. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, he is supposed to have said. How is that ‘honourable’ or even accurate journalism?
It reminds me of Falstaff: ‘what is honour? A word. What is this word, honour? Air’ …
Many people seem to feel less and less ‘shame’ or embarrassment about all sorts of things. Are we losing the sense of what is good and right and praiseworthy, and have we replaced it by what is ‘cool’?
Have we replaced a virtue with a fashionable sneer?