The Trailman’s Oath – Honor

An important part of membership into Trail Life is internalizing the oath:

On my honor,
I will do my best
To serve God and my country;
To respect authority;
To be a good steward of creation; And to treat others
as I want to be treated.

On my honor…

Today, many people equate “honor” with fame, awards, and recognition from the world. However, for the  Trailman, honor is understood in the classical sense, first defined by Aristotle.  Honor is the reward of virtue, and is tied to Aristotle’s ideal man, also called the “magnanimous man.” The magnanimous man is one who is, seeks the best, has the best, and is worthy of the best.  There is an integrity of self in the magnanimous man.

This idea of honor continued through the medieval period.  In the Song of Roland, the greatest villain was not saracen king, but the French nobleman Ganelon who, despite the outward trappings of honor, was duplicitous and supported the muslim invasion of France.  It is no wonder that in Dante’s Inferno we find Ganelon encased in ice up to his neck within the frozen lake of Cocytus, the ninth and lowest circle in Hell, alongside other traitors.

The Trailman’s ultimate measure is NOT the number of badges or degrees of distinction he earns.  Of course,  as young men take part in the various TLUSA activities (camping, hikes, community service, summer adventure, religious activities, etc.) they will advance in rank, receive awards and badges.  However, the Trailman always strives to grow into a magnanimous man of Christian virtue.

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