Green Room

Honor From Our Fathers

posted at 2:02 am on June 20, 2010 by

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.
– Jim Valvano

Honor is essential to the maintenance of a free society.  We learn about honor from our fathers.

When the duties of fatherhood are widely dismissed, or rendered poorly, our understanding of honor is diluted… and freedom soon begins to wither.

This is not to belittle the importance of mothers.  Many single mothers do a spectacular job of providing their children with an understanding of personal honor.  We can respect and celebrate the achievements of extraordinary individuals, without blinding ourselves to the effect of broad trends upon vast populations.  Both fathers and mothers are uniquely important.  Our society is suffering from a pronounced deficit of fatherhood.

There are many ways to define honor.  I suggest viewing it as an expression of faith, in both yourself and others.  An honorable man or woman displays honesty and integrity because they believe others deserve such treatment.  It is a sign of faith in other people that we deal honorably with them, and presume they will do the same, unless they prove otherwise.  Honor is also a gesture of respect we offer to ourselves, because we have faith that we can succeed without deceit and savagery.  If you truly respect yourself, you believe you can win without cheating.

A good father reveals the nature of honor to his sons and daughters through his conduct.  He is loyal to his wife and children, despite the easy temptations offered by the modern world.  He works to build a better future for them, rather than waiting for it to be dropped in his lap, or demanding others provide it for him.  He rejoices in this task, and his joy is so obvious that his family forgives his occasional moments of weariness or frustration.  Through marriage, he has chosen duty over indulgence.  He sees the intricate beauty of permanence, when the flickering neon light of passing fancy is more obvious.  Honor is one of the many frequencies of love.

The absence of a father is a terrible burden for children, and their mother, to bear.  I know, because I’m one of the many children who grew up without my father in the house.  It’s a pain that is not always easy to understand.  What’s missing is too big to be seen clearly.  Generations have grown up listening to the seductive lie that fathers are less than critical.  They are portrayed as a dangerous accessory, prone to explosion and meltdown, easily replaced by a wad of cash or a government check.  Some men have disgraced themselves by allowing this lie to spread, because it suits their convenience.  Some women spread it because they have lost faith in the human race, and believe they armor themselves against an inevitable tragedy.

The opponents of freedom spread this lie because they understand honor sustains liberty, and it flows from the loyal union between fathers and mothers.  Honorable people carry their freedom with dignity.  They understand the difference between charity and dependence.  They are energized with faith in themselves, which makes them courageous enough to take risks.  Honor builds trust between individuals, enhancing the value of voluntary cooperation.

The honor we inherit from our fathers makes us adventurers, explorers, architects, and paladins.  Without it, too many people become predatory, or sessile.  Either way, those people are clay to be molded by the will of others.  When we act in the name of our fathers, we bear the strength of history.  Deprived of this strength, many are trapped forever in the present moment, with past and future beyond their reach.  A good father teaches us that the past and future come as a set.

Some fathers are absent without ever leaving the house.  To them, I would say that fatherhood is your greatest opportunity to testify, before all Creation, that you are not a beast.  Follow its difficult path, in the company of your wife and children, and you may come to understand the true meaning offorever… and then I will envy you, until I am fortunate enough to join you.  If you grew up without a father, then I hope you answer the challenge to give your children what you and I did not have.  An honorable man understands the world is not fated to lose its battle against entropy.  He knows he can help his children make it better.  Look upon them, and understand: you areindispensable.

Happy Father’s Day!

Cross-posted at

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Ed Morrissey on June 20, 2010 at 1:15 PM

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