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What good is Honor & Fear?
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 01/05/2015

Justice Every year, for the past sixty seven years straight have I listened to inspiring speeches on the subject of the word “honor” and how it has impacted history and other people’s lives for so many different reasons. Every day we are reminded of those before us who acted with honor and sacrificed their very own lives to deliver their message or contribution to society at the risk of life and death.

One thing I have noticed about the word is that it has often been accompanied with another word “fear” that lives inside of us as well. Thus we must ask, what is the correlation between honor and fear and how do those two words create a legacy?

Reflecting of society’s conflicts of war, struggles endured to ensure our civil rights, marching for racial equality and actively protecting the earth’s environment has brought so many causes to light, it has been difficult to keep up with them all. Somewhere entwined amongst these struggles are life’s teachings and the men and women who had the courage to do something about how they felt on the matter and bringing into the light for knowledge and discussions.

In many respects, these people had a dream and brought it to us to benefit from or to learn more about our conflicts in our personal and professional daily lives. There are Nobel Prize winners who wanted peace and cures to solve the world’s plagues and famine but also there were those never recognized for such a prestigious award that have equally contributed to mankind through the sacrifices made of themselves and taking on society who ridicule their work and disparage they efforts as being selfish and vain.

Having honor often brings fear. Fear of harm, fear of humiliation, and the fear of failure. Sometimes this fear creates a deep anger within ourselves and brings us into a volatile situation even while knowing this conflict was merely created by the fear from inside you.

Needing to stay calm and avoiding any type of conflict can be hard when you are pressed on principle and honor to do the right thing. I also knew responding with ire or aggressiveness would not allow me to achieve my goal as my primary goal was to encourage others to say what they needed to say and put it in print if they had to do so to aspire greater things in their life.

Refusing to bend or submit to the negative energy was a challenge. I believe every person must endure some kind of struggle in order to achieve something significant in life. Life without struggle would be too easy and often not worth the effort put forth to make things better. No one lives in a world of perfection. Not one person can say they are perfect and that conflict has not taken control of them at one time or another.

No one can say that they haven’t had any conflict with people who are angered, frustrated and hated you because you did what you did, said what you said and believed you were right. It is nature’s law that such conflicts ends with controversy and doubts. Having said that, I still chose to take a course of action that has served me well. I continue to put my words into print and hope that someone, someday, will understand what my message is and carry it on with their own honor and no doubt their own fears.

Society is cruel. It wants you to play the game. It is a two-faced world as they console you with stillness, kindness and apparent compassion while on the other side, they cut you down and drown your words into the abyss unequivocally with quickness and hopes no one gets to read them in time to make a change in their minds or actions.

Honor is what gives you the perseverance, the stamina and the willpower to endure the long run. It is the motivator that keeps you on track of what you want to say and say it in the manner you mean it to be taken and not in a politically correct circus but rather in a realistic set of conditions that make sense and tells the truth. There is nothing anyone can say about me or to me that makes me want to quit whatever I have challenged and stop me dead in my tracks. I will and can respond to them with a gentle word and a genuine smile that will frustrate the hell out of them as they try to compromise me over and over again.

Have no doubt, the opposition is strong. It is filled with envy, hatred and viciously strong resentment to stop you from telling the truth about things important to you and your environment. You have to be prepared for yelling, screaming, hitting and spitting and God forbid, hitting or other physical attacks on you or your family. The honor in this would be to not respond to this in the same fashion.

Although fear may drive you to do wrong, your honor must instill non-violent responses and a steadfast set of principles to build your case even stronger. That’s how you stand up to criticism and personal attacks when you defend your honor.

Clearly, protecting your honor takes a great deal of courage. It takes stamina, self-confidence and reassurances you are doing the right thing. Standing up against the injustices around you makes you stronger, not weaker. It gives you a deeper sense of understanding which leads to sharing your knowledge and principles with those willing to take the risks of listening and they spread the idea as if it was their own. That is what knowledge gives you, it takes away power of those who oppress and gives the power back to those who resist.

It is facing the fears that is the ultimate test of life. The fear of harm, the hatred and the twisting of your words to not only insult or discredit you but to destroy you. Sometimes, depending on what cause you bring forward, there is the fear of death or being murdered while speaking the truth but nevertheless, you have to remain peaceful and resilient in bringing your message to the forefront and tell it like it is. The trick to maintaining your course it to “keep your eyes on the price” and know your words will impact the larger picture you have seen inside your mind.

This picture is your vision. Your vision is something that extends beyond the status of today and seeks to change tomorrow. Whatever it is, you can do it while fighting the fear to stop what you are doing and allowing these negative forces to halt your idea, thoughts and your ideology from reaching the ears of others who may be inspired to carry on such a cause. A man can be killed or murdered but an idea can live forever no matter how much it is challenged, destroyed or discredited. The vision will allow it to live.

So the vision comes from the heart, soul and spirit. It is a narrative put into words only after you have realized its importance and how it can change some things in life. If you die, so what, once put into ink or print, it can live forever. Do not fear death for we must all die and if we die for a justifiable cause, what better way to earn your honor. This is how your family, friends and others will remember you and be very proud to have known you. There are no casualties in life, just victims. There are no destruction of words already said, just memories. Take the time to learn what is important to you and do it with honor.

So now, maybe after reading this short article, your fears have been removed from your life to do what is right. Perhaps you too have surpassed the fear of violence, humiliation or death. We all experience the same things in life; some greater than others but nevertheless, the fact remains they cannot defeat you if you persist your will to say what you need to say. All their yelling, shouting or criticizing cannot stop your words from being heard. Even with death, they cannot defeat you.

Did you know that the best fighters are the self-disciplined fighters? Did you know that they never get into any fights because they fear the fight? Enduring the struggles in life itself, they have practiced over and over getting hit, kicked, and stabbed or shot so they already know the pain they might feel if attacked and harmed. However, they also know how to counter such tactics and learned how to counter suck attacks to return a counter blow or strike with more effectiveness than their opponent. They know they will be hurt but they don’t fear the pain as much as they used to and that’s how you overcome your fear and instill you individual honor on the line.

The key to controlling your fear is to avoid this combat and skillfully maneuver your role into a non-combative character. Someone who is recognized for their own skill set and abilities. This credibility will carry weight when you see the consequences of telling the truth and the manner you present it. Again, your honor remains intact and your goal to win is still alive. You may have already won the battle and lost the war. The importance is how you committed yourself to the anger and aggression before you. There is absolutely nothing you enemy can do if you stand up for what you believe in and never waver to the cause you have chosen. They cannot defeat those who are peaceful and those who don’t put up a struggle like fighting fire with fire.

It is “they” who must answer why they took up the violence rather than the calm. It is “they” who must answer why they chose to take their own actions to destroy you or violate you when you stood there peaceable and honorable. If they hurt you simply because you stood your ground, it is “they” who must explain to the others why they did what they did and justify it to all who know of your honor to say what you needed to say.

So the bottom line is you must not fear the violence or death but rather you must deal with the fears of your ideologies being accepted and recognized to be legitimate and successful if implemented or used in some ways. Change is a difficult concept for many people. It is true some change is positive and others not so positive but regardless of challenge, presenting it in a wholesome and credible manner will launch your idea or concept so others can adopt it or carry it through for a successful dream come true.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:


  1. Kaitlyn on 12/30/2019:

    In order to discuss the topic, one must consider the perspective of the question. It’s more about the influence rather than the principles here. Honor among men provides a better world for people to live more peacefully. And the fear of law is an important thing however people who live in fear are a different scenario. automatic gate installation Redondo Beach

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