The word “honor” sadly isn’t one we hear, use or exhibit much in society today. Growing up, I remember hearing the word in the trilogy recited when exalting the service of men and women in uniform when it was often said that their values were “duty, honor and country”. The other usage of the word that I’d frequently come across was in church when reference was made to the fifth commandment where the Lord admonished his people to “Honor your father and mother that your days may be prolonged in the land that the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).
Sadly, as our society has evolved over time, we’ve seen an erosion of this core value in the public square, business, the faith community and the family.
While the Bible is replete with references to the importance of mankind adhering to the principles of honor in relationships (293 references to the word “honor” in the scriptures versus 198 references to the word “money”), honoring one another is not just a Judeo-Christian principle.
In fact, even the most cursory examination of cultures around the world will reveal how the concept of honor is ingrained into the fiber of humanity throughout Asia, Africa, India, the Middle East, and Europe in addition to the Americas.
The most obvious example of how various cultures honor one another can be seen in how the elderly are treated in communities around the globe. Irrespective of nationality a truism exists across societies where families esteem the elderly for their knowledge, wisdom and longevity by the care they provide parents as they age.
While this still takes place in pockets of our American culture, there are just as many examples (if not more) where the elderly are either abandoned by their families or shunted to institutions designed to do the family’s “caring” for them.
Of course, many loving families do arrange for aging family members to be cared for in senior, independent and skilled housing facilities that afford the family member a quality of life that could not be provided to them in a home setting. However, I wonder if the way our society as a whole has transitioned from personally honoring elderly family members is a leading indicator of the diminishment in the way we honor one another.