I found myself wishing the other day that everyone who failed me would be inclined to gut themselves in shame. Fortunately, it didn't come true or there'd be a lot of dead sum bitches out there (me included). It did get me thinking about old codes and modes of behavior. I know that I wasn't around for any of them, but I find myself missing 'em nonetheless.
Most old codes of conduct were created to keep badass muthafukkas from just killing less badass folks and taking what they wanted. In Europe, rich guys with estates and armor and horses and mandates from richer guys with more estates and more armor and better horses followed chivalry to avoid solving everything with a strong sword arm.
In ancient (meaning before WWII) Japan, the baddest muthas of them all had to figure out a way to keep all of these hereditary-title warrior-caste badasses in line. I'm sure they had a big damn meeting where they fought a lot about what "Ways of the Warrior" were the most important. In the end, it came down to Courage (not being afraid to do stuff), Honor (doing stuff that is right), Sincerity (saying that stuff like you mean it), Compassion (being nice most of the time, especially to one's lessers and guests), and Loyalty (doing all of that stuff to honor your lord, clan, and ancestors). I imagine a lot of blood spilled on floors over whether or not "One Night Stands With Hawt Geisha" was actually a virtue. "Hatin' on the Ninja" probably came up as well. With the code in place, another samurai could still gut you if you stepped wrong, but he couldn't do it just 'cause you'd smudged his obi.
Flash-forward a little bit to the mean streets of major cities before guns came to the fore. I'm talkin' blacksploitation/Clockwork Orange-style. Whole new sets of societal norms came to the fore to keep folks from just up and killing other folks. It made (and still makes) good sense that you'd step lightly around other ultra-violent people, even if you were ultra-violent yourself. Fighting all the time just gets you dead. Sure, the virtues didn't have fancy names anymore, but there was still a Way. It might've been cane-upside-the-head-do or strong pimp-hand-do, but the Way was intact.
I'm sure there's some kind of code in place now, but for most of my adult life it's been either "avoid conflict" or "resolve with extreme prejudice and little regard for collateral damage." Maybe I'm just not seein' it, or maybe it's gone. Either way, I miss it.