The Sound of Music. Mary Poppins. The Greatest Showman. I cut my teeth watching musicals and so did the generation that followed me. It’s part of the family culture. As a family, we watched at least half a dozen musicals during this past holiday break. We fell asleep to Julie Andrews singing in our heads, “The hills are alive” and awoke to Dick van Dyke singing, “When Mary holds your hand, you feel so grand.” Hearing Barbara Streisand sing, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world” left me needing a moment to catch my breath.
All people need people. Aren’t we lucky! Our need for people is a gift. Unwrapping that gift requires us to learn to honor each other. Honor shows regard even when understanding is fleeting, respects even when people are not known, recognizes even when it’s easier to overlook. Intrinsic to honor is the ability to find people’s individual characteristics and respect the power of their choice. Instead of operating from a place of honor, we often label people, things, groups who don’t think, feel, operate like us. The result of labeling is that we see what they are not. We particularly focus on how they are different from us. This propels us to jump on our soap box and dive into what we think, believe, need, and want. (And by the way, what we think, believe, need, and want is really good stuff! After all, we just want people to have the advantage of knowing what we know, right?) Unknowingly, and perhaps unintentionally, we’ve devalued, dishonored and doubted. Following this avenue — label, focus on differences, lecture — prevents us from unwrapping the gift of people.
Acknowledging who people are, what they bring to the table, what it looks like from their perspective pushes us to receive the gift. Part of receiving a gift requires opening it. See what is inside. Engage with it and enjoy it. Honor opens the gift that people bring to our lives, organizations, communities.
Courageously treating people as friends, not strangers, not opposites, not ordinary or common affirms that they have been strategically placed in our life for a bigger purpose. Honor focuses us on how we increase each other, not how we take from each other.
We’ve carried our picket signs in protest, preached our way on the corner of every major city, boycotted major corporations in the name of our cause, ignoring the simple principle of honor. Life flows through honor. Honor transforms conversations, relationships, and nations. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.