Honor & Relationship


January 24, 2008

Socrates, my favorite ancient Greek philosopher (doesn't everyone have a favorite?) loved elusive concepts. He'd probe and prod and make a pest of himself to force his interlocutor to arrive to either an "ah-ha" understanding or frustration and exhaustion at his methodology. What a guy! Socrates probably hung around the town squares looking for someone to talk with about justice, truth, wisdom, "the good life" and other matters people don't like to think about because they can't grasp the expansive meaning or don't want to confront and ultimately, cannot define. Eventually, Socrates met his demise at his own hand obeying the decision of a court of law. He chose to drink hemlock and die with honor, rather than argue for a lighter or dismissed sentence. Socrates' choice perpetuated and perhaps elevated his impact on philosophical thought. We readily remember (and in some cases, revere) a man who not only lived his word, but died with his honor.

Our life experiences reflect how we honor and grow through our relationships. We use honor and relationships as tools through our life to interpret our progress and to move toward personal actualization. We show the world our mettle through our sense of value of ourselves and the people with whom we associate. Our spiritual maturity rests on the mantle of our honor and the depth of our relationships.

Socrates probably thought about honor and most likely engaged in debates about it. No doubt he understood self-respect and respecting others. It remains unclear if he practiced deism of any sort or looked to a higher power for answers. Honor remains important even today as society forsakes the value of the individual for the collective, and tacitly fosters the downward spiral of low self esteem and insecurity.

Honor and Self
An acquaintance once told me, "How you walk (your posture) loudly tells the world how you feel about yourself." Similarly, your figurative walk through life illustrates to the Universe your opinion of your self-worth. Interestingly enough, our busy lives often result in our neglect to honor ourselves. What does that mean, anyway? Popular culture deems it egotistical to stand back and laud our own merits or take a moment to bask in our efforts and ultimately, our accomplishments. Before we can honor anyone else, we must first acknowledge and accept the value in ourselves. Our sense of honor enables us to see the God in our own soul as well as recognize it in others. Taking care of ourselves, our needs our wishes and what is best for us, honors the person within. Call it self respect, or anything you like, honoring the self clearly conveys to others how you deserve to be treated.

Admiration and Respect
Admiration results from careful observation and reflection on the integrity of someone's character. True admiration comes after lengthy consideration, not a knee-jerk reaction to one-time behavior. When you value your self-worth, you can also recognize and value it in others. Many of us look to "successful" people such as magnates or athletes to admire. Respect for another arises out of common social courtesy and appreciation for certain achievements that person made. For example, you may respect someone's position in society and not agree with how he conducts his life, or the choices he makes. Admiration moves beyond respect for accomplishment or position, and solidifies in your mind a person whose character and integrity you wish to emulate. When we peer into the pond of admiration, our own face reflects back to us as the picture of self-esteem, not conceit. Hardly narcissistic, we must ultimately live a life which enables us to admire our authentic self, acknowledging our achievement of that which we hold dear and important.

Honor through relationships
Relationships provide one of the most appropriate conduits for expressing the honor we feel for someone. Demonstrating honor for another whom we truly admire and love, also reflects that sense of honor back to our own mirror. Since 'we are known by the company we keep' take care to first honor yourself and then associate with people who complement your level of integrity. When you genuinely honor another, you walk beside him or her in the continuing evolution of personal growth. And since you chose someone whose character you regard, you understand that they hold your success and self-improvement valuable, as well.

Socrates died with honor. Through history, warriors, soldiers and ordinary people faced death with the dignity they carried with them through life. We demonstrate our sense of honor through the relationships we cherish in our life - with others as well as ourselves. One of the strongest messages we carry to our final rest, shows that our life, lived to our specifications, ended in concert with the symphony of our self-respect and esteem.

May you live your life by the wisdom of your heart through the love of your soul.

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