If honor were profitable, everybody would be honorable. – Thomas More
What does that mean?
I like this quote, for both what it says, and what it does not say. It states that were honorable deeds held as quite valuable, everyone would be honorable and acting as if they were of great value, or had great quantities of the attribute called honor.
What it doesn’t say is that honor, even in the early days of the Renaissance, was falling out of favor. It was no longer considered very valuable. Honor had been supplanted in the hearts, and souls (unfortunately), of many of the people of his era.
The implication is that honor was not pursued with the same energy and vigor as was profit. It also implies that those who pursue profit are often less than honorable people. Unfortunately, both of these are as true today as they were back then, if not more so.
Why is being honorable important?
Honor, the root word of honorable is defined at theFreeDictionary.com as “Good name; reputation.” but most importantly as “Principled uprightness of character; personal integrity.”
Being honorable means having a good name or reputation. But how does one get a good name, the other definition gives us some ideas. Are you principled and upright in your character? Do you display integrity? These are but a few of the aspects of acting in an honorable fashion, which will be slightly different depending on your culture.
Think about it this way. If you had to chose between two people, one of which had a noticeably more honorable than the other, with which one would you rather do business? So, does that help you understand why being honorable is important?
Even today, the most dishonorable members of the business community have to move on quickly, to keep ahead of their reputation as a dishonorable person. In the American West, the Traveling Medicine Show was the archetype of this kind of ‘business man.’ I doubt that’s how you want to be known.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Let me start by saying I don’t think money or even profit is immoral, or that we should all aspire to be poor. But the point of the quote is that we shouldn’t put profit ahead of honor, nor should we do dishonorable things just for the profit we could attain by so doing.
But what does being honorable get you, and is it worth it if being honorable will cost you money? That’s a question we all must ask ourselves. However, if you take it to it’s logical conclusion, and no one is honorable in the slightest, profit will be impossible. No one could trust anyone else, and much of civilization would break down.
So we have to keep a certain minimum amount of honor, just to keep the profit flowing. But at what point do you give up on honor and go for the profit? I would recommend erring on the side of honor as often as you can manage. It might be hard to do, but I believe it’s worth it.
As I noted before, your reputation with respect to how honorable you are, will likely be known to others. Those who are prudent with their money will seek out the more honorable people and conduct their business with them. That means more opportunities for sales, and therefore more profit.
The term ‘make a quick buck’ is associated with dishonorable transactions, and is the kind of thing the quote is all about. There are plenty of people who put in an honest day’s work, and aren’t looking to be dishonorable in profit or any other aspect of their lives.
Again, which would you like to be known as, an honorable person, or a money grubbing dishonorable person? When it’s put that way, I imagine the question is fairly easy to answer. Yes, the answer will be subjective. We will all draw the line at different places for different portions of our lives, and even at different times.
That doesn’t mean that money is to be avoided, or that it is evil, but one must be wary of the temptations profit might present. If you can be strong in the little things, you can also be strong in the big things. You may just need a little practice, and some motivation.
It might be difficult to do, but it will always profit your character if you do the honorable thing.
From: Twitter, @IMRobertdm
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomasmore336061.html
Photo by That Hartford Guy
Happy Birthday to the ‘Man for All Seasons,’ Sir Thomas More, born 7 Feb, 1478