Tuesday, February 9, 2010


While listening to NPR last week, I heard a story about the Greensboro Four and the Woolworth Sit-In. It is an amazing event in our history, an incredibly important action in the fight for civil rights, and a great reminder as we face new aspects of inequality and issues of law in our country (e.g., equal marriage rights).

Apparently, the struggle to find some way to honor the actions of the Greensboro Four has been going on for quite some time, which led me to thinking about honor—personal honor and honoring others—and how that affects our experience individually and collectively.

Behaving honorably may be linked to the powerful words and concepts of many great thinkers and teachers:

  • Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you... ~ Mathew 7:12
  • This above all: To thine own self be true, for it must follow as dost the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. ~ Shakespeare
  • Right Action aims at promoting moral, honourable and peaceful conduct. That we should also help others to lead a peaceful and honourable life in the right way. ~Walpola Rahula
It seems to me behaving honorably requires a commitment to the act of honoring ourselves and others. My first exposure to the concept of honor was probably via the Bible (something I heard in a Sunday school class no doubt... to which I was privy because I tagged along with one of my church-going friends just so I could see what it was all about).

"Honor thy mother and father."

So simple and yet, for so many of us, such a difficult and challenging process! Certainly, in my teenage years and even early adulthood, I fell quite short of this one time and again. Honor requires forgiveness, patience, and empathy... and I struggled to maintain these with my family for a long time.

It was only recently I realized how many grievances I carried with me... attached like superglued velcro to my narrative of done-wrong and poor-me and not-fair. I am more understanding, now that I am a parent, of how hard you are trying even when you make incredible mistakes or repeat a pattern you had sworn to disavow as soon as you had a child of your own.

I also have a clearer understanding of how counterproductive it is to bring past pains with you into the present. Eckhart Tolle provides wonderful reminders to be more honest with ourselves about our current state of pain in the moment. Are you in pain right now? Not do you remember pain, not have you ever experienced pain, not has anyone ever done something to hurt you. Are you in pain right now? Right now.

And so the act of honoring others requires greater honesty with ourselves, a greater abundance of patience, and an increased commitment to letting go of the past. It requires vigilance and returning again and again to fall short... and then try some more. Fall seven times. Stand up eight.

It also requires we honor ourselves... which, I am guessing, if we were all to be honest, is not always so easy to do. Truly honoring ourselves requires the same amount of commitment, forgiveness, and patience - coupled with self-esteem, stark honesty, and the ability to treat oneself with respect and love.

And if we cannot honor ourselves, how will we be able to honor others? And if we cannot honor others, how will we be able to honor ourselves?

The questions of equality and rights that arise so often in our society seem, to me, inextricably linked to the concept and practice of honor. If we cannot honor each human being - each other living being - as valuable, essential, and interconnected... our ability to behave honorably lessens significantly.

And so our character (as a person, as a society, as a world) suffers.

May you honor yourself and others today in a way that brings you greater peace and comfort. May you see yourself and everyone around you as purposeful, important, and divine.


  1. I just found your blog on the next blog and I'm finding this next button is giving me so much comfort. I feel a lot of similarities with you (crafter, wannabe songwriter, counsellor in-training, writer) and I totally believe in the theory of interconnectedness.

    I just wanted to write as I think your advice is so important - to honour ourselves and others. I've been having a really rough day (hence my writing is very scatty) and I've just realised that bad stuff has been happening because I had begun to take for granted, and stop doing, the things that made me feel good. It's such an easy trap to fall into.

    Like you, I feel I'm called to something, and I've set up my blog to see if, by offering what I can of myself, I can make someone's life a little brighter, but I was finding the thought hard with how I was feeling today. It just goes to show that honouring yourself is not a selfish act but entirely selfless - as long as you don't dishonour others in the process. Because when we have our needs met, we are able to rise above and beyond and give the rest to others. I'm hoping with a little self-care, I can get back to that place, and if you ever want any help with anything, check out my blog. Thanks for your words, I will be following and they have helped me make sense of what's going on. x

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. I am so happy my blog found you on the right day at the right time, and it's wonderful to know there is someone else out there struggling with the same ideas, the same pull, and even a similar career path!

    I hope today is feeling brighter for you and wish you all the best in your pursuit of grounding, peace, and purpose. I very much look forward to reading your blog. It sounds like an amazing idea - and embraces those concepts of selfless action, interconnectedness, and compassion in such a tangible and open way. How tremendous.

    All the best to you!