The first human right is not usually considered among the rights: Honor. Yet it is a critical element to human life, to live with honor. In fact, whole cultures have based the right to life on honor. In Japan centuries ago, a Samurai who disgraced his name was expected by his community to kill himself. In ancient Greece, warriors carried huge bronze shields into battle, and if a warrior fled battle, he left his heavy shield behind, so their mothers and wives told the warriors to come home with their shields, or on them. Countless cultures have allowed duels on the matter of honor, even to the point of homocide on a point of personal image. Honor today is a more idealistic notion, but it still matters to many people; what parent does not want their child to live honorably, and to bring honor to the family?
Why would I regard honor as a right given to us humans? It comes down to the fuel of life. We need air, water, food, shelter, health, and so on, but even when we have all those things, sometimes we do not have everything we need. We still need a reason to strive, a reason to take on responsibilities and do the right thing when it is difficult, a reason to do something for someone else’s gain. That is where honor matters. Some cultures give rewards for honorable works, and it is generally true that governments, businesses, and communities consider honor in awarding jobs, promotions, and in enhancing their own reputations, since they too crave honor.
So, what is honor? Honor is more than meeting a need, but rather is that quality which makes a deed or word or thought better than without that quality. For instance, when men are working, each looking to his task, that is one thing, but a man who helps them work as a team and accomplish better results, is honorable for making that advantage happen. Also, a man who gives up something to his own cost, so that his comrades might gain a great victory, or perhaps prevent a great loss, acts in honor, like a man whose heroism saves his group from destruction. In this world, we consider teaching especially honorable, because a teacher performs a great service for little reward. We consider our military veterans honorable, because of their service and sacrifice to our nation and its ideals. But even in more ordinary lives, we still consider courtesy honorable, we consider charity honorable, and we consider growth honorable, whether it is exercise for our bodies, study for our minds, or improvement for our spirits.
Honor comes from God, and is one of the great rights of Humanity.