There are some things in life that are bigger than the individual. Sometimes we don’t understand the selflessness it takes to put others in front of oneself, and we question the way life has treated us. It takes a unique individual to keep going when things get tough. Look no further than the men and women of our all volunteer military force. They are making the ultimate sacrifice each day knowing there could be a time in their lives when they are faced with death.
There is honor in other facets of life as well. Look at the single mom or dad who works tirelessly to provide for their family, knowing they will miss some of the most important accomplishments in her child’s life because they are working to put food on the table and clothes on their children’s back. They are willing to go without eating if it means it benefits their child.
What is honor? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines honor as: respect that is given to someone who is admired, good reputation, good quality or character as judged by other people, and high moral standards of behavior. There are some people who believe honor doesn’t exist, and it is nothing more than empty words. Like many things, it is left up to the individual to interpret and develop their own definition of the word. Factors such as life experiences, culture, and upbringing have a huge influence on their behavior. Who are we to judge? Just because society develops a set of behaviors based on the majority of the population, doesn’t really mean that the minority of the population is wrong. It is not left up to you or me to determine, it is only left to the individual to decide their course of action. While we may or may not agree with their actions, we must understand that common law drives our cultural norms and behavior in society and without it, any of us would act in a very different manner.
However, honor is not based on common law. It is based on a very deep belief that we live our life in such a manner that no matter what happens, I will not sacrifice the things I believe most deeply in. Freedom, liberty, and justice are not empty words, as they are the deeply embedded roots of this country. Many people have sacrificed their lives to protect us from oppression. Look no further than Michael Murphy, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, who was killed in Afghanistan exposing himself to enemy fire, knowing he would be killed. There are times in our lives when we have to make hard decisions. It is these decisions which will define our lives and the type of person we are going to be in life. We can either make the sacrifice or we can sit by and watch the events unfold, always asking ourselves: could I have done something to make a difference?
Let’s be honest, the majority of the population will never see military combat, but you have the ability to live a life of honor in other ways. As we age, we start to see things from a different perspective. Our priorities change, we understand life is taken for granted, and we want to believe in something more meaningful than the everyday flow of life. Time goes by fast, and this life is nothing more than a blink of an eye before it is taken from us. We must embrace the opportunities given to us, “Carpe Diem”- seize the day! Do the same for all the people you meet during your life time. Some of these relationships will not be pleasant, but there is a reason these people came into our lives. Maybe it was to change a behavior, learn something new, or change our perspective on life. Take the time to appreciate one another because we all have something to offer. There is honor in understanding, listening, helping, and building relationships.
In the end, be honorable in all you do. If you have to question your actions, then it is probably best not to do it. Never bring disgrace or dishonor to your family, live a life of high moral character, always look ahead and not back, strive for self improvement, be open to learning something new, and take criticism. When life hits you in the gut, suck it up, push forward, and redirect your emotions. The pain you face will only make you stronger. Yes, it sucks at the time, and you should take time to heal. The amount of time needed depends on the person and the circumstance, and you may never get all the answers you are looking for at the time.
I found the following quote from Marcus Luttrell (Ret. Navy SEAL), the lone survivor of Operation Redwings, and it can be applied to all aspects of life. “No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.”