Today I'm reading "Butterfly and Hellflower" for the second time, and finding it as enjoyable as it was earlier this year. Eluki bes Sharhar has scattered interesting soliloquies on the meaning of honor throughout the story and today, Mother's Day, I'm thinking of the influence of mothers.
Why honor mothers on Mother's Day unless it is true that they have a role to play in shaping the values and lives of their children, and by extension, the society in which we live? Surely it is not only for the single act of birth, while difficult and hazardous, that we honor mothers. No, it must be for the choices we mothers make day after day, year after year, thoughtfully forming the young lives we nurture.
If nurturing and demonstrating honor and other virtues is true motherhood, then many who have never had a child, many who are not even female, qualify as mothers.
Today, I honor my mother, who made many difficult choices, and showed love and honor. I honor also the other mothers in my life, who demonstrated patience and love and honor, and gave me truth and hope.
On page 326, the Hellflower muses, "Is there higher honor than honor? When honor itself twists like a serpent, what shall we prove ourselves against to know we are still human? ... If humans who betray are human no longer, what is honor that is only a tool of kingmakers?"
As the political debates heat up in preparation for next year's election, we see honor twisting like a serpent, and candidates also as they bend to appeal to voters on both sides of the issues. I look for a candidate with honor, one who will be the same person when the mic is turned off and the voters are no longer watching to see what they do.
The "honor that is only a tool of kingmakers" -- that is only for show and not of substance, is made of promises not kept and actions that are political payback regardless of the hurt to the country.
Perhaps we only see see true honor clearly when it is evident by what is lost. I'm thinking of President Ford, when he pardoned President Nixon. At the time, I said "He did it because he loves this country, and it was the best thing for the country." We were in a precarious military and financial position due to Nixon's resignation and what the world thought would be a public trial. People forget how fast the dollar was falling, and how dangerous that Cold War world was. At the time, Ford was judged with harsh cynicism, and people said he 'made a deal' just to be president. What the pardon really did was make him unelectable, and he and his advisers knew it at the time, as it has been revealed since his recent death. That is why I thought he had honor -- there was nothing but loss in it for him to pardon Nixon. He did it for us, not for his own ambitions. Time magazine honored him recently on their cover for his honor. Even though he had to wait until after he died, his honor was finally acknowledged.
I wonder if there is a candidate running now who would take the hard choice? The only one I can see who has a track record of living with hard choices is McCain. He survived as a prisoner of war, and kept his honor. He is old enough to see what his life has been about, old enough to have made mistakes and learned from them, old enough to have gained wisdom as well as knowledge and experience. There are candidates more handsome and more eloquent, but I don't see any who have a better history of honor. I wish him well, and hope the voters will be looking past the sound bites, the easy answers and the pretty faces.