The Way of the Warrior - Honour
The Way of the Warrior - Honour
(c) Diana the Valkyrie, 1996
Nothing is as important as your honour. It's your dignitas, your imperitas, your respect. Lose your honour and you're nobody. Gain in honour, and you're more of a person.
So what is this intangible honour, and how can you gain and lose it?
If you make a promise, then you keep that promise or die in the attempt. This means that you don't take an oath lightly, and you don't make commitments unless you know you can carry them out. If you fail to keep a promise in spite of extraordinary efforts, you don't lose so much honour as if you didn't really try, but you still lose some.
This is a complex subject. A Warrior doesn't lie. The essence of the lie is the intent to deceive, so a failure to disclose a key fact can also be a lie.
But in sword fighting, for example, it's permissible to feint towards one part of the body, thus misleading your opponent into thinking that's your target, and when she's committed to parrying that stroke, to make the real cut elsewhere.
This is obviously a deception, a form of lying, yet it is permissible to warriors. Likewise, if you conceal a part of your battle forces in a fold of the ground, or try to give the impression that your forces are other than what they are, it is a deception. But it is an honourable deception, one that does not detract from a warrior's honour.
So what is the difference between an honourable deception, and a dishonourable lie? You have to make a judgment, but when in doubt, lean towards the honourable side.
Protection of the weak
A warrior is not a bully. If a weak man asks for her protection, she will often take him under her skirt and look after him.
A warrior does not rape men, except in the aftermath of a heated battle.
Obviously, a warrior must be prepared to injure or even kill. But not unnecessarily so; if the enemy surrenders, an honourable warrior accepts the surrender, and does not harm an unarmed prisoner. And the honourable warrior would never harm an innocent bystander, unless of course the bystander decides to participate in the fight.
A warrior is willing to kill animals for food; a battle group must be fed. But that killing will be done quickly and humanely, and only to the extent that food is needed.
There's a lot of controversy about distance weapons. If your enemy uses effective distance weapons then you may be forced to counter them with more distance weapons. But the warrior finds it deeply dishonourable to kill the enemy by dropping a thermonuclear bomb on them, or by blowing up their cities. Artillery, machine guns, rifles and bows are all alike, in that they are weapons of distant killing, and there can be no honour in killing in this way.
But all killing is done at a distance to some extent - even if your weapon is a six foot broadsword, that puts your enemy at a certain distance. Spears, specifically, have two purposes. A spear-wall prevents a cavalry charge, as no horse will charge home against the wall of spikes. As such, it is an excellent defensive weapon, helping to protect your infantry. But a spear can also be thrown, making it a distance weapon; inaccurate and not very effective, but still a distance weapon, and it would be hard to think of it as dishonourable.
The rules of war
There are certain rules to war, and breaching them can be gravely dishonourable. The flag of truce and parley, for example, should be respected, and the spokeswoman should be returned unharmed.
If a battle can be decided by single combat between two champions, then much honour goes to the winner; some honour to the loser also. When the winning champion has prevailed, she should offer mercy to the loser, especially if he's male.