Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Belated Honors Forum Post

Okay, okay, by 'belated' I mean 'behind by exactly one week'. So this is the post I should have done between last Tuesday and today. I don't have much of a defense, so I won't even try to make one. Sorry, Dr. Brewton! I'll try harder.

Now, for my thoughts about his talk last Tuesday, such as they are...

He went through the five values of the Honors Program, which are (1) creativity (2) integrity (3) curiosity (4) achievement (5) service.

(1) Creativity is a good one, no matter how it is interpreted. I suppose you could say I am good at creativity. I will try not to bore you with details of my mad hobbies, but I do draw and write extensively. I suppose that counts as creativity. How creative I will be in my approach to schoolwork remains to be seen, however. I still haven't come up with a topic for my narrative essay that is due next Tuesday, and that's terrible for me. The only thing I can come up with was how our pony dumped my sister into a water puddle years ago...

(2) Integrity is a much-talked-about but nevertheless much-valued value. (Yes, I know that was redundant.) Dr. Brewton mentioned how integrity meant keeping promises, how it meant being a person of character, how it meant having a mission every day to be that person of character. Now here was where I began to think of a number of things, and here on this blog is where I get to wax lyrical about the quotes from books it made me think of... Please pardon a bibliophile her selection in authors...
   First, for the promises part. It made me think immediately of a line in the Prologue of the Lord of the Rings (best book of the millenium, by the way) that runs thusly: "The Authorities, it is ture, differ whether this last question was a mere 'question' and not a 'riddle' according to the strict rules of the Game; but all agree that, after accepting it and trying to guess the answer, Gollum was bound by his promise. And Bilbo pressed him to keep his word; for the thought came to him that this slimy creature might prove false, even though such promises were held sacred, and of old all but the wickedest things feared to break them." That line just sticks with me. 'Promises were held sacred.' That pretty much sums up for me how I feel about promises.
    Okay. Now for being a person of character. I once read a book entitled 'George Washington and Benedict Arnold - A Tale of Two Patriots' by Dave R. Palmer, which followed the two throughout their life, from their similar origins to their dissimilar fates. It was quite an eye-opener actually... a sort of 'There but for the grace of God go I...' moment. The book ended by asking why they took such dissimilar paths: "The easy answer is to say that one had strength of character while the other did not. But what exactly does that mean? What is character? And how did it shape so extraordinary an outcome?" The book mentions that Major General Joshua Chamberlain called character 'a firm and seasoned substance of the soul', and that the Greeks reduced it to the sum of four virtues: fortitude, temperance, prudence, and justice. That investigation into the essence of character is always what I think of when I hear the words 'a person of character'.
    As for having a mission every day (leave it to me to seize on the tiniest little phrases), that prompted my mind to spring immediately to a line from G. K. Chesterton's 'Orthodoxy': "But all conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must always be having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post. But this which is true even of inanimate things is in a quite special and terrible sense true of all human beings."
    I really can't say it any better than that. If we want to have integrity, if we want to be people of character, we have to consciously choose and prove by our actions each and every day that we want to be people of character. That's all there is to it.

(3) Curiosity. My friend Audrey has called her blog 'Curiosity of a Lion', which is, I have to say, a far more creative name than Clueless Freshman, no matter how amusing the latter may be. I'm curious about weird sorts of things. I'm willing to talk tractors and car parts with my dad and regret that I can't remember it all. And talk about farming. I wish I could remember it all. I like looking up the meanings of words and the etymology of those words. I like finding out what names mean and why- what language they come from, that sort of thing. I have a linguistic curiosity. I hope that suffices. Which is why I love Latin!!! One of the greatest languages of all time. I love it.

Rident stolidi verba Latina!

(4) Achievement and (5) service. I don't have as much to say about these as I did about integrity. (Man, this is a long post!) At least I can say some things about service. Dr. Brewton made the comment about the Honors Program only being good or bad as we made it. That made me think of... no, I'm not going to drag another quotation in here. :) I'll spare you that. But I will mention that to sanctify a society, its members have to be saints. So in order for us to have a good Honors Program, we've got to be great Honors students! Nice, lovely challenge. And I have something else to say about service, and it's quite simple: Of those who have been given much, much shall be expected. We've got a long way to go.

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