“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think this is a helpful quote as we live through these days of transition following the recent election. A good question to ask ourselves is:
How do I live honorably in these times?
When there is a lot of tension, it is easy to feel angry and short tempered. After years of normalized dishonesty and attempts to undermine values and programs that we hold dear, it is easy to feel vengeful.
These feelings may be easy, but they are not honorable and they do not help us move forward in this divided era.
Beneath all of the anxiety that has built up over these past years, what is your best self and how do you recover that and act upon it?
How do you want to be looked upon by others; let alone by your own self?
These are good questions to ask because in so many ways we have lost sight of honor as something to which we should aspire. And in times of tumult, there is nothing more valuable than honor.
Romans 12:10 encourages us to “outdo one another in showing honor.” This is because, biblically, honor is all about self-giving, building up others, and living to our highest ideals in triumph and in defeat. In biblical times as today, this glorifies God.
It is, therefore, particularly hard to witness and endure a self-centered person deal with defeat because they have no honorable resources to draw upon. Instead, they fall into an ever-deepening abyss of denial and self-delusion in order to cope. Their actions can inspire those within their orbit do cause great damage to others.
Our response to such things has to be honorable in order not to descend to the base-ness of such a person. Honor helps us act in a way that lives to high ideals, that looks out for people who are vulnerable, that makes a way forward that is better than what has come before; better for everyone. It is living, especially during upheaval, in a way that we can be proud of even when it isn’t popular.
In an era where honor is lacking, a just future is built by those who have it.