Last year I had the opportunity to visit
My visit was work related and I had the opportunity to spend time with entrepreneurs and community activists from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Finland, a fascinating time and in no way a taxing sojourn.
As part of the trip I had the opportunity to spend time in a local Job Centre to find out how a regional city in Poland dealt with unemployment and I was struck by the extremely low rate of economically inactive citizens in the region, unemployment was less than 3 %. I asked the simple question, ‘how in these times is the rate so low?’
The answer hit me hard, really hard and has resonated ever since;
Honour, a word that is so overused and overlooked in our language never mind society. I wanted to write about it there and then but couldn’t, I had a blockage… maybe I still do! You be the judge.
I started thinking about the word and what it actually meant. The first time I ever heard it was at Sunday School, ‘Honour thy father and mother.’ Something I learnt verbatim, to be honest I hadn’t a clue what it meant, but hey it sounded good.
Then later on I heard childhood heroes like Glenn Hoddle tell me is was an honour to play for a club like Tottenham Hotspur… Just before he departed for AS Monaco. Yes I am still bitter.
Then we have the honours system in the UK when deserving and in many cases undeserving people get recognition for the things they have done, or have allegedly done.
Researching AKA googling the word honour was quite arduous, such a strong word often came across as trite and probably like love, overused, abused and devalued. This wasn’t the same word used so passionately in Rzeszów, a word that really bounced about in my soul never mind head.
It got me thinking, which causes my wife much concern. Do we really honour anything in our increasingly individualistic world, is honour a word we throw about too easily without giving attention to its real meaning.
In NI sometimes I feel we honour one thing with the sole aim of sticking two fingers up to someone else. Surely that is wrong. To honour something is a standalone gesture, to elevate something of huge worth.
Is honour of little value in 2015? Maybe.
Or maybe it’s just me, I might be an auld cynic that was simply struck by the response in
In NI we have a history of honouring this and honouring that, much of which appalls those who aren’t from one tradition or another. However in reality I want to ask, do we have a culture of honour? Do we respect and recognise the achievements, opinions and culture of themuns. I’m not sure we do, and one thing is certain, the majority of our politicians don’t.
While we honour what suits us, only elevating what glitters within our paradigm, we at best Ignore everything that , at worst we skew it into something unrecognisable.
I believe we are often guilty of dishonouring the concept of honour!
That is borne out daily at Stormont where many things are seen as black and white, as absolute with straight lines between opinions, a place full of conflicting narratives and little common ground. But that does not reflect real life, life is blurry, messy and at best abstract and worse just downright nuts.
Maybe we need to honour the good in what we don’t understand, many in society do it everyday, but I won’t hold my breath for the political leaders to catch up.
The best we can do is honour the good that we see day to day, and that may just start with a smile and a thank you.
To quote Alexander Pope, ‘Act well your part, there all the honour lies.’