Tag Archives: pride

Honourable Relationship

My first encounter with the term ‘honourable relationship’ came with wwww.druidnetwork.org and my time with The Druid Network. At first glance, it’s an obvious and simple concept. If you are living honourably, then your relationships must be honourable too. When everything is going smoothly and everyone’s happy, then maintaining honourable relationship isn’t difficult if you are a half way decent human being. When there is conflict, staying honourable is hard. I’ve watched board debates spiral out of control in online spaces as folk I know are well meaning and decent people can’t work out how to do honourable disagreement. It happens in real life as well.

Honourable relationship can only occur when those involved are all consciously acting with honour and seeking honour in and through said relationship. You can treat anyone honourably, but if they aren’t responding in kind, it’s not honourable relationship. However, even the most well meaning, honourable persons can find themselves in disagreement. What happens then, is the true test of both the relationship and the honour in it.

To hold honourable relationship is to still hold respect even in disagreement. If at this point you realise the other person is an asshole, your scope for honourable relationship has gone. It means not feeling that you have the right or the need to force your perception on someone else. Recognising that the other is an intelligent, informed, honourable person means recognising that the differences are ok. Or taking back the assessment that they are intelligent, honourable and know what they are talking about. Again, if we do that it’s not honourable relationship any more. They have the right to perceive differently, to want and act differently, to express their honour in different ways. A fine example would be an argument between someone who is passionate about eating locally sourced organic food, and is omnivorous, and someone who is passionately vegan and depending to a degree on imports.

To be in honourable relationship, we have to accept the other as they are, and respect their choices and actions. We can challenge and question, but we can’t deny them the right to think and feel as they do. And equally if we encounter questions and challenges, we have to recognise the other has every right to do that, and respond with integrity, not irritation. A key part of maintaining honourable relationship is the assumption that what we have is indeed honourable relationship – constantly looking for honour fails will break it in no time, so will a ‘more honourable than thou’ mindset. If we do it, we do it together, harmoniously and as a team effort.

Aside from the assumption of honour, we shouldn’t assume anything else. We should ask, and listen to the answers. Honour does not preclude competition – think about those heroic myths! It doesn’t rule out disagreement or conflict. And oddly enough when you think about it, honourable relationship does not require friendship. Two people might totally oppose each other in terms of ideology whilst holding such profound respect for each other’s dedication and methods that they do in fact hold honourable relationship.

If a relationship isn’t shaping up as honourable, then foot stamping and pointing out the other person isn’t doing it right seldom works. If a person cares about honour, nothing will offend them more than suggesting they aren’t acting honourably. Which can make those challenges and all important questions bloody awkward! While dignity is very much necessary to help you maintain your own honour, pride is a distinct handicap sometimes, and telling the two apart matters. Dignity will drive you to discover the right answers and to fix anything that has gone awry while pride makes it hard to own mistakes and tempting to stand your ground and claim you are ‘right’ when you aren’t.

In honourable relationship, we act in ways that allow ourselves, and others to maintain personal dignity. When pride becomes the dominating factor in a relationship, we may well lose the honesty and respect that honour depends on.


Christianity identifies pride as one of its sins. I’m going to argue that for Druids, pride should be seen as a virtue. I don’t mean the kind of haughty pride that simply means assuming you are better than others, but justified pride that has roots in something good. People today don’t take enough pride in things.

We should be proud of our skills. Whatever it is that we do, that we make with our own hands, earn with our own sweat, shape with our own ideas or embellish with our own creativity, we should be proud of. Not only should we take pride in the finished thing, but in the skill and dedication that enables us to get the job done. Anything we do, is worth doing well – including the smallest tasks and the briefest interactions. Each moment of life is a chance to express beliefs and values, and we should take pride in doing so. It doesn’t have to make us rigid or pompous, but we have every right to feel good about whatever we do well.

We should take pride in our surroundings. No matter how humble, how run down, how poverty stricken, wherever we are should be a source of pride to us. If it isn’t, there is work to be done. Work we can be proud of. Any space that is valued, cared for and treated with love should be a source of pride. And the same too can be said of our communities and families. We should be proud of them too, and if we can’t be for some reason, there is work to be done. Finding the good in things and the reasons to be proud can be challenging, but we should always be looking. After all, one of the jobs of a bard is to praise and honour what is good. We have to find the good where we can, and celebrate it.

For personal dignity and a sense of self, having things to be rightly proud of is so important. It’s hard to hold a sense of self worth without pride, and if you don’t have that, it’s easy to fall victim to all kinds of mistreatment, both private and institutionalised.

An absence of pride makes it easy to be indolent, wasteful and mean-spirited. Taking no pride facilitates treating ourselves and others with disrespect. We don’t aspire to be and do our very best. We do not give of ourselves. A person who has pride, and takes pride in doing well lives a very different life from one who does not, and has very different relationships. A person without pride, without a sense of doing or being something of value, lives a much narrower and less rewarding life. Someone who aims to do things they can be proud of and who seeks opportunities for justified pride, will both give and receive far more.

There are also so many things we are all implicated in – like the state of the planet, our culture as a whole, world poverty, animal extinctions, human rights abuses… the list is vast and heartbreaking. There is so much about the impact and behaviour of humans that is no source of pride at all. The opposite, in fact. We are a species that has much reason to feel ashamed of itself, and yet does not. Justified pride, and any shift at all we can make towards emphasising it, might make it easier to tackle this critical issue of justified shame as well.