What is Honor?



Philosophy has got me in its grasp and won’t let go.  I suppose it’s due to the slow birth of the book I’m writing.  Or maybe it’s because my idea of honor isn’t the same as most people’s definitions.  Is honor just respect?  If so, it answers why many of the people I’m interviewing or trying to interview are reticent to detail their experiences with the JFK assassination.  One has said, “I have to keep my promise to not mention names, even though some are dead, they still have family.”  This is true. So you’re honoring yourself by keeping your word.   But by not talking, are you truly honoring that person and their family for something that may have been illegal?  Immoral?  Are you trying to save the person’s family from pain and embarrassment?  That is honorable, but is it right?   Could it be you are rationalizing or worse yet, enabling them to wisp away into history without their deeds, good or bad, being known?  In essence, are you making decisions about what should and should not be shared about their lives?

I shared my family’s life in regards to my grandfather, Orville Nix and his film.  Karyn Holt, St. John Hunt and many others have shared their lives and the roles their family member’s played or didn’t play in the murder of JFK.  All these truths can be verified.  When a researcher or author calls and talks to someone and asks questions, it is usually not for money or fame, it’s to find truth.  So what is truth?  I tell my kids that truth can be found in the mix of actions, words and character.  Like a recipe, the truth always comes out like a Julia Childs’s soufflé:  a lie comes out like a can of Spam.

I believe that honor should be not only for the past, but for the future.  If we go to our graves with these secrets…this guilt…this misplaced idea of what is right, how are we making the world a better place?  Shouldn’t people be responsible for their actions?  If we have done something we are not proud of, aren’t we better off confessing our digression?  I am not Catholic.  I am not proselytizing.  I am trying to understand why Carlos Bringuier, Silvia, Sara and Annie Odio,  Walter Machann,  Larrie Schmidt, John Masen and a few others would rather tell some or none of what they know, ignore questions or break off interviews in the name of Honor.  Who’s Honor?

With that said, I would like to thank Larrie Schmidt for answering many of my questions.  I would like to thank members of the Cuban Catholic Refugee organization who I have interviewed for their honesty.  I would like to tell the Odios that I am in contact with members of the Masferrer family who have mixed feelings about their fathers and grandfather but still understand how important to history the truth truly is.  Why are we so scared to be honest?  Dishonesty is not honorable. The past cannot hurt you unless you are still making the same mistakes.  We all have a responsibility to ourselves and our society to don the mantle of honesty and make things right.  This is why the government has to make so many laws:  for people who don’t want or don’t know the right thing to do.

Maybe it isn’t philosophy that has me in its clutches.  Maybe its frustration.  Or maybe its because I believe honor to be holding someone or some thing with high moral principal or in great esteem.  How can we hold dishonesty in great esteem?  Or does it just not matter anymore?

What do you think?


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