Last month we celebrated the first Honors Chapel of our school year. Over the years reactions to such events have become more diverse and complex, with various questions raised: In the case of recognition for good conduct, why do we honor students for things we expect of them as a matter of course? Do we adults hold ourselves to the same standards for our behavior? Regarding academic honors, why do we use grades as the sole criteria for recognition? Does that not leave out some of our grittiest students whose persistence and achievement might not be fully recognized by the numbers? Good questions indeed, and they usually inspire me to focus on inclusion in my remarks at these chapels. At last month’s Honors Chapel I noted an “honor roll” available to everyone. Dictionary.com’s first definition of “honor” reads as follows: honesty, fairness, and integrity in one’s beliefs and actions.
Living a life with honor is attainable for each of us, no matter our “grades.” However, it is not necessarily an easy thing to do. In fact, at least in my case, it has been a lifelong journey to live more honorably over time. What has helped me immensely has been my spiritual practice to thank God each day for the gift of that day and to express my desire to live that day with honor. At the end of the day, I spend a brief time reflecting prayerfully on whether I have truly lived it with honor. I have days when my reflection is tinged with regret when I recognize the moments when I could have acted more honorably. In those moments I pray that I may have the gift of another day on which I can once again commit to living it with honor.
I thought of those remarks again this month when I read the news that Dictionary.com had selected “xenophobia” as its Word of the Year: fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers. How sad that this is so, but it also serves as added inspiration to aspire to find a place on the one honor roll that really matters.
Until next time…