Honor Society

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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:40 pm

The religious morals include things so basic as "Don't steal things from your neighbor" and "Don't kill your neighbor" and "You have got to work


You have to go to work? Surely Maynard G. Krebbs is roasting, then!

I think our lives should be guided by reason instead of religion. One could find rational reasons not to steal from or kill a neighbor. What's so hard about that? Civilization doesn't have to end if we give up religion.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:49 pm

GCR,

I'm not sure that society would last long without religion. Too many people go unpunished for the sins they commit against humanity. For many people, there would be not point to act civilized if they did not believe that such people will get be punished for their evil deeds in the afterlife. Unless, of course, you can come up with a guarantee that evil will be punished in this one.

Look at Hitler, or the 9/11 hijackers. They killed themselves (and a lot of people with them) before they could face a jury for their actions. If they had faced such a jury, what punishment could we impose upon them that is worse than that which they imposed upon themselves? How many people would give up their sense of community if they did not think that an eternal lake of fire awaited such evildoers? I suspect they would barricade themselves and their loved ones in a castle or, not being able to afford a castle, assign themselves to the protection of someone who could. It would be the dark ages all over again, wouldn't it?

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Postby BigJon@Work » Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:05 pm

Shap, so what western society has been engaged in is the "putting down" of shame. Making shame so it doesn't matter or can safely be ignored?
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Postby Shapley » Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:34 pm

BigJon,

I'm not aware of a society as a whole that has attempted to abolish shame. What we have here in America is a tolerance for behaviour that was considered shameful in the past. Some of these behaviours include:

Single parenthood
Cohabitation
Abortion
Homosexuality
Drug Use
Promiscuity
Criminal behaviour

The 'broken window theory' of societal decay goes something like this: In any neighborhood, hooligans will throw rocks and break windows, and they will spray paint graffiti on the walls of buildings. Those neighborhoods that retain pride, that have a sense of honour, will replace the glass in the window, they will scrub off the graffiti. They will also try to find and punish the hooligans.

If the hooliganism continues, the people with the greatest pride will begin to move out of the neighborhood. The broken glass will be replaced with plywood, the graffiti will be left visible, or perhaps covered up with a big blotch of spray paint that will be left like stain on the society. The hooligans will be emboldened, and would-be-hooligans will no longer be inhibited from expressing their hooliganism. More glass will be broken, more graffit will spring up. The neighborhood will have lost its sense of shame, and accept the state of affairs as normal. Society, in this neighborhood, will have decayed into dishonour.

This is how society as a whole will collapse, one neighborhood at a time. Perhaps the honourable will get tired of running, and allow themselves to be consumed with the apathy that they sought to escape. They will then fight or surrender, I suppose. That will determine whether the society rises or falls, into honour or dishonour.

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Postby Shapley » Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:04 pm

Anyhow,

Trying to get back to the original question. You will recall that one of the images of the American West was that the white man, with his written treaties and laws, was at odds with the honourable culture of the native American, who made treaties with the shake of the hand and a puff on the peace pipe. Yet, those peace pipes were well smoked, as new peace had to be made all the time, as one or more of the tribes proved themselves dishonourable by breaking the peace established with the last toke of the ol' tobacco.

So it is down through history, with every culture on every part of the world continuing to fertilize the earth with the blood of warriors. We see the epitome of honour in the action of soldiers, yet is usually dishonour on the part of one or the other of the combatants that leads us to war in the first place, and it is the victor that defines whose dishonour it was. Joseph D'Maistre once said that the world is a huge altar, in which the blood of humans must continually be sacrificed. So it seems.

But I guess I'm off topic again.

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Postby BigJon@Work » Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:17 pm

No, no you are quite on topic. The one article in honor societies in Islamic states told how the agreements were only good as long as that same "strongman" was in power. Once he died, all agreements went to zero and needed to be negotiated over again.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:27 pm

I suppose that could be true of any society, depending on how the 'strongman' died. Don't the Mafia and most 'Banana Republic's' work that same way. :D

Seriously, that would be the downside of having a nation or a society built on unwritten laws and codes, they are subject to revision at the whim of the next person who finds himself in power.

I'm wondering if the term 'honour society' isn't misappied in such instances. Order in the society would seem to be a product of the power of the overlord, rather than the honour of the populace.

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Postby BigJon@Work » Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:36 pm

But that is also one of my discovered definitions of an honor society, is that there is unquestioned loyalty to the patriarch. When that honor is abused by the leader is when the honor society becomes a dictatorship or something else. I guess you could call the mafia an honor society, couldn't you?
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Postby barfle » Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:50 pm

Shapley wrote:I'm not sure that society would last long without religion. Too many people go unpunished for the sins they commit against humanity.


So instead they are threatened with an undemonstrable hell, and that works for exactly who?

I repeat my point of this morning, that once people realize the benefit of cooperative behavior to themselves, they will engage in cooperation to the extent that they are able.

We're still selfish and greedy, but we're smart enough to realize that an investment of immediate gratifaction will result in greater gratifiaction, albeit somewhat delayed.

Then we can dispense with all that damnation stuff.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:58 pm

BigJon,

In that context I would say, yes, the Mafia is an honour society of the type you describe.

I'm not sure I can see a parallel between the mafia and anything of the situation in Iraq or Palestine. Perhaps I'm missing something.

Barfle,

I think it works for a great many people. I've seen a grown man cry on his deathbed out of fear of eternal damnation for some sin or other he committed in his youth, for which he did not think forgiveness possible. I don't think a sense of community would produce the same result.


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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:50 pm

I'm not sure that society would last long without religion


Maybe......who knows?




For many people, there would be not point to act civilized if they did not believe that such people will get be punished for their evil deeds in the afterlife.


These people--the many you referenced--can't tell the difference between right and wrong, and need to be told. If true, then religion has a good function. Just don't elect any of them to office, say like the white house or the school board.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:21 pm

GCR,

Most of us learn right and wrong from our parents and teachers, although I think we have an internal sense of it from birth. Some of our parents use religion to instill those virtues into us, others do not. Are you suggesting that we should apply a religous test to candidates for office? I think the Constitution forbids it.

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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Thu Jun 22, 2006 10:40 pm

although I think we have an internal sense of it from birth


Relying on this approach might be a little bit vague. One needs to think about actions. Here's a little story: at Waikiki, tourists cross the street like they have never seen a red light before. When my son started to cross too, I stopped him and asked "if we substitute our judgement for the law, what good is the law? And what does that say about us?". He stopped to think, but the light turned green before he answered, and we crossed. He's likely to think about that before jaywalking again. Just a story.

Are you suggesting that we should apply a religous test to candidates for office? I think the Constitution forbids it


Nope! I said don't elect 'em. Some school boards want to ban the teaching of evolution based on principles of faith. Maybe they see themselves as instruments of God's will and evolution theory is a corruption from Satan. Who knows what they think? What if we had a president who said God told him to invade that country? Yeow!

Hey! Does that look like a religious test for candidates for office? I guess so. And the constitution forbids it? Then I expect Homeland Security will be by my place to arrest me for my voting methods. :wink:

How can I say this? Religion should not be the engine behind political policy. Or the purchase of textbooks for public schools. And so on.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:14 am

GCR,

I'll have to disagree. Religious people pay taxes, send their children to school, and otherwise fulfil every aspect of citizenship in this country, the same as anyone else. They are entitled to their vote and to attempt to win a place in governance. It is unreasonable to expect them to 'check their beliefs at the door' once they enter the arena. I see no reason to believe the their basis for governance, or for choosing reading material, is any less valid than anyone elses. Is a book that says that God created the world any less valid that one that says that Republicans are destroying it?

Back to honour societies. I suppose I was confused by the title. I am familiar with the term only in regard to those groups that call themselves by that name, usually academic or fraternal organizations. Their membership consists of persons who have completed some requirement or another to be admitted: high academic scores, successful business ownership, or some other recognizable accomplishment. Such groups usually have, or used to have, ethical and moral standards that must be met to gain and retain membership.

If I recall correctly, one such group is the Circumnavigators Club, consisting of people who have completed a solo circumnavigation of the world. Its membership is mostly sailors, but includes, again working from memory, President Gerald Ford, who walked around the world at the South Pole, and one or more astronauts. The criteria for membership used to require that members be "Gentlemen of upstanding character" or some such statement. When Tania Aebi completed here circumnavigation, the first woman to do so, she was denied membership because she did not fit the bill. Initially, the objection was seen as sexist, because she was not a 'gentlemen', but it turned out that it was the 'upstanding character' that was the stickler. Apparenlty she had a male sailor living aboard for part of the journey, and wrote about in her book. Eventually, if I recall correctly, she was denied membership, neither because of her gender nor her character, but because, by having someone else on board, she did not fulfil the 'solo' requirement for membership. Someone may want to correct me if I have some of the fact wrong here.

That has always been my understanding of what an 'honour society' is. And it is a bit different from this discussion.


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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:38 am

It is unreasonable to expect them to 'check their beliefs at the door' once they enter the arena.


Belief is rooted in faith and consequently makes a poor premise. Poor because it cannot be investigated or verified. Faulty premise=unreliable conclusion. I have to say its unrealistic to expect people to 'check their beliefs.'


I see no reason to believe the their basis for governance, or for choosing reading material, is any less valid than anyone elses.


Are you talking about textbooks here? Are you saying its ok to ban the teaching of evolution? If so, then I'm done with this topic.
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Re: Honor Society

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:47 am

BigJon@Work wrote:I’ve been doing some web-based research on independent topics and three of them spiraled around to how the modern US mind can’t understand a society based on honor and the loss of honor. The studies were on ancient Jewish culture, Japanese culture and Islamic influenced culture.

I must admit I need some help here. To me honor is one of the more nebulous terms as I was not raised in an honor culture and I don’t know what the term even really means. From the outside, it looks like an honor culture is a society of unwritten rules and multiple inscrutable paths to mortally insulting someone. The rules vary by family and clan and you can never know them without having grown up in them. I read that the military branches are the closest thing we have to an honor culture in the USA.

How does an honor society work? If you grew up in one, how does and outsider come to understand the rules and function in that society. Does the inability and inexperience of the typical US citizens in honor cultures really make us unable to negotiate with many worldwide societies to mutually beneficial agreements? The premise of the one report I was reading was that the US’s ham-fisted treatment of the Islamic-based honor culture in Iraq is the primary reason for the protracted and bitter struggle from within.


That was where this started. After all the input from various folks, it's my general impression that the societies based on "honor" come down to "defer to me, I have higher status than you do" and "if you dispute my word I will kill you". That first part does, indeed, sound like military practice but the second part is generally rejected by folk who subscribe to the "rule of law" theory of social interaction.

The part that makes negotiation with "honor-based" groups difficult is their marked tendancy to break agreements whenever they perceive an advantage in doing so. It is the rule of law that makes stable negotiated agreements possible and the "honor" tribes lack the willingness to abide by agreements made by another individual.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:53 am

Giant Communist Robot wrote:
It is unreasonable to expect them to 'check their beliefs at the door' once they enter the arena.


Belief is rooted in faith and consequently makes a poor premise. Poor because it cannot be investigated or verified. Faulty premise=unreliable conclusion. I have to say its unrealistic to expect people to 'check their beliefs.'


I see no reason to believe the their basis for governance, or for choosing reading material, is any less valid than anyone elses.


Are you talking about textbooks here? Are you saying its ok to ban the teaching of evolution? If so, then I'm done with this topic.


Insofar as your beliefs are part of your character, they are part of your voting decisions. Selection of candidates for public office based on their religious agendas sounds like a bad idea to me.

About the inclusion of religious matter in public schools, I want to see an equal-time provision for hindu, muslim, wiccan, Hopi, and other origin-of-life myths. If the Garden of Eden or Intelligent Design goes in, so should the World Turtle.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:57 am

GCR,

Are you talking about textbooks here? Are you saying its ok to ban the teaching of evolution? If so, then I'm done with this topic.


All I'm saying is the local community, i.e. the school board, has the right to select the reading material that the school will use, and the community has the right to select the school board based on whatever criteria they use to decide how to vote. I'm not an advocate of banning books, but I'm an advocate of local control. If that means the local people vote to cut their own throats, educationally speaking, so be it. I'm not a fan of centralized control.

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Postby BenODen » Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:09 am

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:
Giant Communist Robot wrote:
It is unreasonable to expect them to 'check their beliefs at the door' once they enter the arena.


Belief is rooted in faith and consequently makes a poor premise. Poor because it cannot be investigated or verified. Faulty premise=unreliable conclusion. I have to say its unrealistic to expect people to 'check their beliefs.'


I see no reason to believe the their basis for governance, or for choosing reading material, is any less valid than anyone elses.


Are you talking about textbooks here? Are you saying its ok to ban the teaching of evolution? If so, then I'm done with this topic.


...

About the inclusion of religious matter in public schools, I want to see an equal-time provision for hindu, muslim, wiccan, Hopi, and other origin-of-life myths. If the Garden of Eden or Intelligent Design goes in, so should the World Turtle.


At the risk of sending the thread completely off topic, I'll respond to this latest tangent... As far as I know, Intelligent Design is inclusive of all religions in a general way. It simply states that there is too much complexity in the world to have happened by random progress, even if you say that only the good bits survive. There are plenty of things that the evolutionists can't explain. The eye is a good example of a not well understood feature of evolution. How do you create an eye gradually over time? What survival purpose would the intermediate forms serve? Flying birds, another. Hollow bones serve as an anti-survival trait until the animal can fly, in addition, the other structures that support flight, the tail, and other weight saving features are also detriments to survival before flight. Seems hard to get all these to appear at once in one animal. To assume that the gaps will be filled in by science is faith just the same as assuming that the gaps in understanding are actually not understandable through normal processes, and are evidence that some other force is working in the universe besides the forces of the laws of physics... If you're going to teach one explanation of creation, it seems like you should allow that the other could be valid as well. Banning one or the other doesn't seem the way to go to me though, and to deny the science we do know seems likewise foolish...
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Postby jamiebk » Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:09 am

It seems to me that "honor" is simply adherence to a specific set of beliefs. That is not to say that any of those beliefs are "honorable" in the sense that a normal person would agree. For instance "honor among thieves" or perhaps the "honor" of blowing one's self to small pieces of protoplasm in an effort to eliminate the infidel.

I think that there are some universal concepts on which we all agree, although these seem to be getting fewer and fewer these days.

We want people in office who have strong "morals". OK...where do those come from? I disagree that we inherit them innately. They are taught, either through experience or by adherence to social or religious laws.

Some learning is "cause and effect". For instance...I am married and have sex with my neighbor's wife. No harm no foul one might say. Then someone finds out and all hell breaks loose. OK...so now, that is determined to be a bad choice because of the consequences that ensued (not to mention the guilt that one owuld carry around internally). Most things are like that. But many choices are not so obvious...it may take many years or decades for the consequences to be known, so the "cause/effect link is not clear. Over time, mankind has learned from our mistakes. Our "morals" are a result. I'll step on some toes here, but take the Ten Commandments"...I have never believed that these are "laws" that came down from God. If you read them, they just plain make sense within the context of avoiding problems with large groups of people.

We must live by common laws because each of us would create our own "morals" based upon only our own limited experiences. This would not be broad enough.

So back to the politicians and their morals. I don't think that one CAN separate our morals (religion) from politics (nor would we want to). What we want to avoid is having zealots in office who advance only their own moral agenda without recognizing the needs and beliefs of ALL of the people. This, by definition should move every politician to "the middle"... So, how is it that we seem to focus on the extremes? We seem to be more and more polarized in our politics everyday. Where is the tolerance and sensitivity for each others beliefs? Was this not the founding fathers vision of the new world?
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