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Monday, March 11, 2013

Words to Live By 6: On Honor

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Words to Live By is a series featuring short selections by eminent men and women from the mid-twentieth century. Originally published in This Week magazine, the selections represent a mosaic of what people were thinking and feeling in challenging times. Read previous entries here.

On Honor
by General Mark W. Clark (President of the Citadel, Military College of South Carolina)

"A Cadet does not lie, or cheat, or steal." - The Citadel Honor Code

I have always believed that everyone needs to impose upon himself some rigid code of personal ethics. The Ten Commandments are probably the most perfect example of such a code.

But it seems to me that young people, who perhaps need rules of conduct the most, tend to shy away from long or complex lists of "do's" and "don'ts." That is why we at The Citadel have established our Honor Code which consists of just one rule expressed in nine words: "A Cadet does not lie, or cheat, or steal."

Just nine words. But what important words they are, for without them none can hope to build a decent or a happy life.

Of course, The Citadel's Honor Code is only a beginning. Of course, our 2,000 Cadets know that there is more to character than merely not lying, cheating or stealing. But these negatives are important as a starting point. A man can then go on from these "don'ts" to more positive rules of life. If, as a boy, he learns what not to do, then as he matures, the positive values will slowly move into place. "Do unto others ..." "Love they neighbor ..." - these "do's" are the true capstones of a moral code. But the "don'ts," learned in childhood, are its foundation.

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