The only love that never grows old is the love of honor — searching for truth without ulterior motives and living a life accordingly.
The love of honor means asking only one question in deciding on any course of action: Is it the right thing to do? The love is with you 24 hours day every day of the year. Its challenges never cease. And its thrill is cumulative, not transient like other pleasures.
The love of honor is learned. It is not part of our DNA or 23 chromosome pairs.
It is the child of endless reading, writing, reflection and engagement with others in the affairs of politics, business, culture and romance. It entails a mastery of our instinctual vices or animal gratifications: a craving for power, money, sex, fame or creature comforts.
We invariably become jaded of instinctual pleasures because novelty yields to satiation. If love of honor is not then embraced, we will be warped or deformed in frantically searching for new and more powerful stimulants to achieve animal thrills necessary to distract from our philosophical emptiness. As Henry David Thoreau sermonized in “Civil Disobedience and Other Essays,” “Most men live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
Hormones, inexperience and ignorance make youths generally unbelievers in the love of honor. Their thinking and actions are preoccupied with sex, power, money and status. When they grow old, they refuse to acknowledge the philosophical bankruptcy of prior years. That would puncture their self-esteem and complacency. It takes rare moral courage to confess stupendous errors of earlier years and to begin marching to a higher philosophical drummer.
It is the duty of parents, educators and leaders to inculcate a love of honor throughout the seven stages of life in Shakespeare’s “As You Like it.” All should be taught to strive for a sepulcher not where their bones have been deposited but where their moral glory is remembered for the ages in the hearts of the living and those yet to be born.
There is no superior existence.