What’s Wrong with the World

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Men and women Archives

May 10, 2014

The Honor of Mothers

On Mother’s Day, of course we are going to honor our mothers. And, of course, we don’t each of us individually just honor our own mother, we honor all mothers.

What does that mean? What do we mean when we say “we are honoring mothers”? Is it like Hispanic Heritage month, where we honor things Hispanic? Is it like Columbus Day, when we honor the man who “discovered” our land? Or “Businessman of the Year? In those cases, saying we “honor them” means that we take note of the distinct good that this person (or this people) rendered to us or the distinct good they stand for, and we give due thanks and due recognition of the effort and spirit of the person(s) who did it.

Yes, we certainly do this too when we honor mothers today. But I think that we mean more than that for mothers. There is another, more specific sense of honor that we should think about as well. The generic sense is “giving due recognition” for someone’s good work, good will, and goodness of spirit. The specific sense is more like “giving due recognition for full self-sacrifice”. This is the honor applicable to soldiers and police and firemen, most especially: they put their own bodies, even their very LIVES on the line for the good of the rest of us. So, when we think of “honors” in this sense, and we have military awards and medals to make known these honors, we acknowledge that honor is connected to these professions, and the people who fulfill them, in a special way.

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