#404 A Life of Honor
This week, I am sharing the remarks I made at the high school’s National Honor Society on November 13, 2018.
Good evening. Congratulations to our inductees tonight and to their parents. Tonight, I wanted to share brief remarks on two words which have been on my mind. The first word is “marginalize.” The definition of marginalize is to treat (a person, group, or concept) as insignificant or peripheral.
These days, there is a great deal of political rhetoric on the national stage which marginalizes people based on their religion, race, nationality or beliefs. Marginalization can be used to win the allegiance of people by making them feel better when compared to the group being marginalized. I hope you realize that this is wrong, no matter who is doing the marginalizing.
But, I’m afraid you don’t have to look at national politics to see marginalization. Unfortunately, it’s been part of teen-age life through the decades. High school students have their group of friends who usually dress similarly, share some of the same beliefs, and participate in the same activities. If we’re honest with ourselves, we make decisions every day about individuals or groups of people and determine whether or not they are worthy of our attention, our friendship and sometimes, perhaps even without thinking, we marginalize others based on their affiliations. We may assume what those affiliations are based on things as simple as how they dress. I’m hoping that you, as leaders, can lead us to a better place in this regard.
Remember that in the definition of marginalize which I read, it included concepts. When we treat concepts as insignificant, they are marginalized – which brings me to the next word I’ve been thinking about: honor.
Honor is a concept which I feel has been marginalized. Many do not prioritize living a life with honor. According to a website called “REAL man,” To live with honor means to strive to do your best in all aspects of your life. It means living with courage, integrity, purpose, and dignity. Above all, to live with honor means to pursue excellence in all that you do, and ultimately, to make the most of your life and time in this world.
I need to point out that the title of this organization, the National Honor Society, does not mean we are here to honor you tonight (which is another meaning of the word honor.) We are here to recognize that you have exhibited some of the qualities required to live a life of honor. But tonight is just the beginning.
William Shakespeare said, “Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious than life itself.”
I would encourage you all to mark this night simply as a milestone on your journey of a life lived with honor. When it is tempting to lie to protect yourself from looking bad, choose honor. When it seems like disparaging someone else can detract negative attention from your situation and make you look better, choose honor. When you are tempted to marginalize a group or someone else to gain favor with others, choose honor.
Living a life of honor is not a priority for many, but I hope for those of you on this stage, it will become your life’s mission to always do the honorable thing. As German philosopher Immanuel Kant said, “It is not necessary that whilst I live I live happily; but it is necessary that so long as I live I should live honorably.”