Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Being an Honorable Person - 6 Easy Rules


I am going to take a little departure from talking about cases.  I have and have had many courageous clients.  It's the nature of my business that someone who wants to bring a discrimination case must have a modicum of courage.  These are not the types of cases for the faint of heart.  Today, though, I have been thinking about honor.  It is the courageous, honorable clients whom are the ones I love.

What is it that makes a person honorable?  An honorable person is one who is deserving of respect.  And who deserves respect?  Most of us, including me, have acted in dishonorable ways.  Dishonorable acts include lying, cheating, stealing, betraying, manipulating.  It's easy to be negative.  What does it take to be a truly honorable person, worthy of the respect of others:

1.   Speaking the truth even when it is unpopular, while avoiding needless unkind words;
2.   Being loyal even when it is tempting to be disloyal;
3.   Having empathy, especially with one's opponents and people with whom one has little in common;
4.   Giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return except the joy of giving:
5.   Standing up for what one believes in even when it is unpopular to do so;
6.   Truly being able to forgive others for just about anything.

I know this is a simple list, but it seems fairly comprehensive to me.  When someone needlessly hurts someone else or strives for personal power or personal wealth above all else, it is always a reflection of some underlying conflict in that person.  Unfortunately, people who are hurt by others oftentimes go out and hurt even more people.  Angry people hurt others, while oftentimes not meaning to do so.

So, how does this relate to the practice of law?  The practice of law is a microcosm of the act of living.  We have developed a set of rules with which to operate so that we don't destroy each other.  Law is eminently logical and practical.  People aren't.  It is possible to fiercely promote what one believes in or to defend one's person and principles without annihilating the opponent.  The fiercest advocate can be the gentlest person.  It is not easy to be honorable, but honorable people do not expect perfection.  They are ready to forgive transgressions. Living honorably is the key to being peaceful and content. Not ironically, the best advocate is the one that acts with honor.

12 comments:

  1. you are totally right thank you

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  2. what should i do when someone take advantage of this kindness?

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    1. Their reaction is between them and God. You have done what is right and have set an example to follow. You be Honorable, you can't make the other person do the same.

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  3. i an righting a paper on honor and thanks

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  4. How can you teach someone to be honourable?

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    Replies
    1. To show them by actions and not just words.

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  5. Nicely done! I am going to use this with a group of high school kids that I mentor. "One thing I found out years ago was to never mistake kindness as a weaknes

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  6. Been a loyal n supportive friend to someone but in the end misunderstood That I was supporting my friend only to kill my time !

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  7. loyalty is not a virtue, especially if to be loyal would be detrimental to the truth, or to justice.

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  8. This town is full of corrupt lawyers pulling stings.

    Who ya kiddin?

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Dear Ms. Bratcher, I think the rules you suggest aren't very reliable. Each situation has to be evaluated. For example, as another person above commented, sometimes being loyal can be done for dishonorable reasons. Even the same action in the same situation at different times can be honorable one time and dishonorable another time. I think the most important skill to develop, that will ensure we are able to evaluate each situation accurately when trying to to act honorably is recognizing the truth. This is not easy. We lie to ourselves more than we are even aware - we can convince ourselves we are being honorable or honest when we're not. We have to first have the courage to be honest with ourselves. We also have the courage to listen to others when they can see we're lying to ourselves at times we can't see it. This is not easy; it can feel scary to learn we are not as on top of things as we think we are. It's also embarrassing to have something negative pointed our about ourselves. So, in my opinion the real courage is in being honest with ourselves and standing up to ourselves when we are lying to ourselves. This is tricky. For a simple example - say we have decided to exercise. How do we know when we tell ourselves it's ok not to exercise on a particular day that we truly need a break or we're indulging ourselves? It's so easy to make the wrong choice and convince ourselves we are right. Once we are able to distinguish between when we are being truthful or dishonest, hstanding up for what we believe in doesn't necessarily require courage.

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