Honor and Honesty
Are these two words closely related? Can either word be used to describe human behavior without inferring the existence of the other word?
Dictionary definitions of the noun, honor, have some meanings common to the noun, honesty. By eliminating the last four letters from HONESTY and replacing them with the letters, “O,” and “R,” the result is the word, HONOR. Taking it one step further, does the word, “or” become operative? Can we have Honor without Honesty? Is it possible to have Honesty without Honor? For example, a salesperson selling a wrecked vehicle claims, “You have my word of honor that this car is in like-new condition.” Is omission of the fact it was wrecked an evasion of honesty?
The relationship between Honor and Honesty has historical roots. Was the honor of a Knight in any manner open to being questioned? When a Knight gave his word, it was as if the King himself supported the actions of his Knight. During the “Knights of the Round Table” honor and honesty were always expected, but did the Round Table exist and was it really round?
Under a flag of truce, opposing armies could be trusted and were bound to honor a flag of truce that protected a meeting held in plain sight between enemies on a battlefield to the extent that a despicable act like killing the participants (while talking under a flag of truce) was out of the question until the conference attendees returned to their lines. Then members of each side knew it was OK to start killing members of the other side.
Even in Hollywood’s western movies, when the good-guys rode out on white horses to talk with the bad-guys, the meeting seldom turned into a violent exchange involving weapons.
The universal custom of raising one’s right hand with the empty open palm toward a stranger has roots from the act of showing that the hand did not hold a weapon. Honor and Honesty were in play by that gesture. So, for the most part the two words are interchangeable but in the absence of Truth, the meanings of both words are tarnished beyond repair.