Guest post: An Honor Culture mentality

Originally a comment by Sastra on A T shirt that could cause trouble or offence.

When psychologically fragile people are encouraged to believe they have no control over their emotions and no capacity to become mentally confident and self-sufficient — and society is told that these fragile people are completely and utterly dependent on outside validation in order for them to function or indeed even continue to live — we end up with self-appointed Saviors. Someone has to step in to protect the vulnerable.

We then go from a Culture of Respect, in which self-worth is inherent and restraint and resilience are held up as ideals, to an Honor Culture mentality, in which worth is socially determined. The ability to revenge yourself against those who dishonor you is now the currency of status. If the first one could be said to have the motto “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words could never hurt me,” then the second one is a combination of “Them’s fightin’ words” and “I don’t get mad; I get even.”

It’s the only way I can make sense of a gay man bashing a gay woman for wearing a pro-gay t-shirt, and celebrating violence against her. He’s a Savior fighting for the honor of those whose sense of worth is external, for they have Been Offended, and in an Honor Culture there is no other recourse than swift, harsh retaliation.

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