Promoting a Culture of Honour in 2022

By Joan Janzen

A couple was in court fighting over the custody of their daughter. When the judge asked the man to present his argument, he said, “Your Honour, if you slide a coin into a vending machine and a snack comes out, is the snack yours, or the machine’s?”

That’s an interesting argument. Amidst a culture which displays much ‘dishonour’, people may not realize ‘Your Honour’ is not only the proper way to address a judge, but honour is a valuable attribute. It’s defined as “high respect and adherence to what is right”. In 1850 the definition of honour went on for pages, but has been reduced to a few phrases in the past several decades.

I listened to a man reminisce about working at his dad’s service station after school. His dad honoured his son by making him the night manager, giving him more responsibility. The son admitted he got the job because there was no one else to do it and he was working by himself so he didn’t have to supervise any employees.

During his first evening as night manager, he locked the outdoor washroom before closing the main building and going home. At 2:00 in the morning his dad received a call from the restaurant owner next door to the service station, who said there was an old man hanging out of the window of the washroom, yelling “I’m gonna die!” Apparently he had been locked in the washroom all evening, and the new ‘night manager’ had to go down and let him out.

In spite of this incident, the young man’s dad continued to honour him with the title of ‘night manager’. Shortly afterward, the young fellow was backing a customer’s car out of the garage, and backed into a yellow, metal post. As a result he bent the passenger panel of the car.

“I didn’t want to tell my dad because I was scared I wouldn’t be allowed to get my driver’s licence,” he recalled. Nevertheless he decided he would tell his dad in the morning, but in the mean time the customer had phoned his dad, saying he would pick up the car late that evening after the garage closed. That night the customer got into his car, not looking at the passenger side of his vehicle. He pulled his car out of the parking lot shortly after midnight, and someone from the lounge next door who had been drinking too much, pulled out and hit the side of the vehicle, caving in the whole side of the car.

When the young man found out he thought it was too good to be true! Now he wouldn’t need to tell his dad the truth.

“But I had to honour my dad,” he said, “I told my dad what I had done and he said I had to tell the customer. The customer actually laughed at the bizarre circumstances, but it took me quite a while longer to get my driver’s licence because of it.”

Honour is many things, one of which is doing what is right, even if it will result in adverse consequences. It’s also about giving and showing respect. You don’t have to look much further than scrolling through comments on social media to witness dishonour. You’re sure to read hateful comments and nasty name calling, which aren’t helpful to anyone, encourage division and solve nothing.

Every day we hear news reports about everything that’s going wrong in the world. However we rarely hear about people honouring law enforcement, showing honour among different races or law enforcement showing honour in the community. There’s a lot of good out there that no one is talking about.

I heard a millennial say, “If we become accustomed to our own opinions, we won’t listen to the opinions of other people that could be offering really good advice. We have to tune out our own opinions and the way we feel we’re supposed to do things, so we can be mentored and taught by generations who have more experience.”

It’s important that the older generations instil honour in children and invest in the younger generations. The generations can learn from one another if we are willing to listen and honour one another. It could be a good path to pursue in 2022.

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