We flourish following the Code

A thoughtful Miami undergraduate asked me the other day, if I could expand the Code of Love and Honor, what would I add?

I’d never considered that, and the question provided an opportunity for deep reflection. It gave me more appreciation and gratitude for the Code – and encouraged me to review its strength and the values, morals, and character it promotes.

Following the Code fortifies the individual. It encourages us to stand for something – “honesty, integrity, and the importance of moral conduct,” “good judgment and … personal responsibility.” It provides a foundation of “character and intellect” and a purpose – “to make the world a better place.”

Just as importantly, under the Code, the Miami community not only has a clear set of values; we act on them. It’s not sufficient to hold true opinions or right ideas without putting them into practice, and the Code calls us to live what we believe. It’s also not sufficient to perform an occasional good deed without a larger framework that will empower us to sustain a consistent good life, and the Code provides that structure as well.

Following the Code promotes positive relationships. This starts with being open-minded with the people around us – respecting, for example, “the dignity, rights, and property of others and their right to hold and express disparate beliefs” – but it doesn’t end there.

Following the Code means that our community will actively “welcome a diversity of people, ideas, and experiences” and support and care for fellow Miamians, a way to approach all relationships throughout life. This goes beyond tolerance and a distant live-and-let-live stance to real inclusion and meaningful connection.

The Code of Love and Honor is not a list of directives or a catalog of cases and consequences. It is a personal and individual commitment, every statement beginning with “I.”

As I reflected on the Code, I realized that it doesn’t need to be amended or extended as new situations arise because when we follow it, we are equipped to face whatever circumstances we might encounter. The effect of modeling the Code is “a deep sense of accomplishment” (without being conspicuous, of course) and gratitude for the relationships with “those who helped me earn the joy and privilege of saying, ‘To think that in such a place, I led such a life.’”

The undergraduate who asked me about the Code was, in fact, practicing Love and Honor.

He was thinking seriously about life and about our Miami community. He was willing to engage me rather than just wondering what I might think. That act of openness inspired me to reflect more deeply about our lives, too. It shows that the Code of Love and Honor provides the guidance we need to flourish in community.