The Quality of Honor. The Authors Collection.
September 2, 2013
At first, I thought it was rain. Completely lost in the book I was reading, it took a few moments to realize that it probably wouldn’t be raining in an airport. I glanced up and saw a woman looking down the hallway, clapping.
I started speculating. Was she clapping for a friend? If so, why were other people clapping? Then I saw the first one, and I knew. Coming into view was an elderly gentleman being pushed in a wheel chair. Following him in formation were more elderly gentlemen being pushed in wheel chairs.
The book forgotten, I started clapping; the people around me started clapping, and then we all stood as veterans of World War II rolled by. I had read about the organization Honor Flight a few years ago, and was moved by this act of honoring, but witnessing it was much more moving than reading about it.
We stood, not just for the veterans, but also for the men and women who were walking with them, and who were giving time from their lives to honor, in a tangible way, those who have served.
This experience prompted me to think about the quality of honor and if I was giving the gift of honor when and where deserved; or if I am taking the gifts of service given by others for granted. I decided the latter, because gifts of service are all around, and I don’t notice often enough.
Yes, there are the obvious gifts of service like the one honored by Honor Flight, but what about the everyday ones. Do I honor the road crew, the waiter or waitress, the electric company, my husband, children, store clerks, or any of the people and services that make each day easier for me, and others? Not so much, or at least, not enough.
Then there is the quality of honoring right action. If we think of honor as a way to behave, then taking the right action at the right time is an honorable quality.
In the midst of thinking about the quality of honor, I was also trying to make a decision about a request made to me to help an author promote his book. It was presented in such a way that I felt if I said “no” I was letting myself down because I would miss an opportunity. In return for the promotion, I would have my name and information about my work on their website. The idea being that I would attract people to me by being associated with them.
Yet, I felt something was wrong about doing it.
The deadline to supply my information had arrived, and I was stalling. Having done this kind of promotion before, I knew that in reality, it would produce very little, if any, results for me. Instead, I would be supporting someone I didn’t know, and the content of the book was not something I would otherwise promote.
Was this an honorable thing for me to do in that case? Was it honorable for me to promote something just for the possibility of getting something for me in return?
Would my readers appreciate my referring them to something that I wasn’t sure I believed in? In addition, was the request honoring me, when in truth it wasn’t an equal exchange?
Walking through this decision with the quality of honor in mind, as graciously as possible I turned down the offer, trusting that it was the right thing to do.
When those veterans rolled by, I thought of my dad. I think he would have liked to have gone on one of those trips. Did we honor him enough for the service he gave? Did I honor him enough for being a dad and husband and teacher? Probably not, which was not very honorable of me.
I hope to keep the picture of those men rolling by in the airport with me for a long time, to use as a prompt to remind myself about the quality of honor.
There is one last idea of honor I would like to suggest; that we honor the gifts given to us, our talents and abilities, and use them for the highest good possible. Not all of us will be famous, but if for just one person we make a difference, that is the quality of honor in action.
Calvin Coolidge said, “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” And that we can do!
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