Let’s not prioritize honour over life

Sharing my thoughts after reading a disturbing story of honour killing.

In this age and time its unfortunate that people confuse honour to be more important than life itself. They forget that honour is something humankind picked up over time, something we learned, something we were thought by society, and not something we were born with. It’s definitely not a biological aspect, it’s more of an egoistic aspect of life. Yet people consider it so important that they are willing to take life or give up life over it.

A child brings so much happiness to a family, from the moment the child is conceived he or she starts spreading happiness. The moment they are born to the time they become adults a lot of care, love and resources are spent on them, not only by the parents but also the society at large. But when they grow up to be adults and they decide to choose their life partner from a religion which they are not born into, or even worse, a caste they are not born into, then in some parts of the world and society, they are considered to be bringing dishonour to the family. All the love they had for their child, and all the memories they created over decades suddenly start to vanish, and all that takes priority is the shame they brought upon the family. Honour takes priority over everything and a life is lost in the process. Intelligence takes a backseat, and ego takes over. While in most part of the world a marriage or a love relationship between two people are considered just that, meeting of two humans and nothing beyond, then why its such sensitive matter for others.

We are all born naked, no ones come out their mother’s womb in clothes, but with time we learn to cover-up. Animals are the same, they are born naked as well, but they don’t feel the need to cover up, even humans didn’t, for a major part of human history. As the society developed we realized the need to be more modest, and as time passed the level of modesty started to fluctuate, it started to get embedded into societies in varying levels, and some even take it to the extremes. Today you can even find people taking a dip in the pool in clothes covered from top to bottom, yet there are the ones who stick to the trunk or a bikini. But even then when a personal photo which is not for consumption for the general public (due to the modesty of the clothes or the absence of it) comes out, and is seen by many, it brings so much shame that people feel forced to take their lives over it. They feel so ashamed for themselves, and for others that they consider it to be their duty to take their lives to restore honour. So how is it that for some walking a ramp in a revealing attire is a matter of pride, while for the others being seen in such clothes is matter of life and death.

There are places in the world where even today there is a custom to hang in the balcony the white bed sheet used during the consummation of marriage, as a proof of virginity of the bride. And it becomes a matter of honour if there is no evidence on it to prove her virginity. Some of you may find this extremely bizarre depending on where you come from, while others may find it quite normal, it all depends on your conditioning, highly influenced by the society or theological practices you were brought up under.

This goes on to show that a specific act or situation that you are under becomes a matter of honour depending on where, when and to which society and practices you are born into. If it is so, and there is no universality about it then we all need to think as to why we make it so big that we are forced to even take lives, whether it’s our own or someone else’s. Why let shame stoke our ego to extreme ends, that we feel there is nothing beyond it? Why not give courage a chance, and let the ego take a back seat?

First and foremost we need to acknowledge that we live in a made up world. And in this world, we give the power to someone else to make the rules of engagement, and these rules of engagement are mostly invented by our fellow humans over centuries. What are these rules of engagement? They are everything that was thought to be discovered in order to help the society to evolve progress and thrive, it includes but are not limited to, concept of good & evil, right & wrong, rules & regulations, law surrounding everything, etiquettes, respect & honour, concept of beauty & ugly, concept of god, and many more. Whether we like it or not we have to live in it, as they exist and flourish because everyone collectively believes in them. It is something that one single person cannot change on their own, you may be able to live out of some of these rules and regulations, but will be held accountable for the rest. We cannot one fine morning start a non-cooperation movement against all these manmade echo systems which were developed over centuries, we have to live within it. But you don’t need to let it get into your mind to an extent that you value it above life itself.

The whole objective of these manmade echo system of societies, is there to lead people like flocks of sheep’s, to keep rebels at bay, keep people looking outwards than inwards, so as to keep life moving in a direction set for them. But we still have the ability to think beyond these and inquire further, we have the ability to look inside and reflect, we have the ability to think beyond the obvious traps set for us. The idea of honour is part of this whole society trap. In this trap, we are conditioned that shame is something bad that we have to go to extremes to avoid, and killing in the name of honour is acceptable, probably not in the eyes of the law but from a moral perspective, they are not seen in the same way as killing for profit. Taking one’s own life for honour is considered brave, and doing the same for other reasons are considered cowardly. But what difference is there? Killing is killing, there is no good killing and bad killing. So we need to recognize this trap.

A damaged ego isn’t the same as a damaged liver or a kidney unless we make it so. Yet people spend their life’s earning to fix a failing organ but are willing to give away or take life over a damaged ego. Doesn’t that sound silly? The matter of ego, shame & honour is inherited over your lifetime, it’s not a biological aspect of life. Ego is a non-physical entity so is the honour, it exists in our minds, and it cannot survive without life, hence when life ends ego ends. Therefore taking life to save your ego is like cutting off your legs to avoid stepping on thorns.

A damaged ego isn’t the same as a damaged liver or a kidney unless we make it so. Yet people spend their life’s earning to fix a failing organ but are willing to give away or take life over a damaged ego. The matter of ego, shame & honour is inherited over our lifetime, it’s not a biological aspect of life. Ego is a non-physical entity so is the honour, it exists in our minds, and it cannot survive without life, hence when life ends ego ends. Therefore taking life to save our ego is like cutting off our legs to avoid stepping on thorns. The faster we learn this as a society, the better the life will be around us.


Photo credit: letspedia.com