Honour, and life

Someone asked what was the best thing you could do to honour a recently departed.

That’s the wrong question.

You don’t honour a person after they die. They’re gone. They won’t care.

But you do.

Say the person who died was part-way through a wonderful project to build a school for little girls in a remote Namibian village. That person poured themselves into this project, devoting their best resources to it.

The project is now 75 per cent done. But if nobody steps in to finish the work the now-dead person won’t be able to do, the whole project will collapse and in two years nothing will remain of the dream.

You cared deeply about your friend. The school in Namibia is something you’ve helped by contributing a few hundred dollars. You kept up with progress reports and said the appropriate things when your friend talked to you about it. You shared fundraising campaigns on your social networks and got a few friends to donate, too. You weren’t by any means instrumental to the thing, but you did your bit to help. Not because you have a personal connection to girls in Namibia’s back of beyond, but because your friend was so dashed passionate about this project you figured you’d chip in.

Now the friend is dead and unless someone steps up, the dream will be, too.


Say you happen to have the luxury of taking six months off work and enough money to afford the trip. And with just a little bit more fundraising, you’re pretty sure you can finish building the school. You also happen to know someone who can help get a grant to cover the salaries of a handful of teachers once the school is built. You research how Kickstarter works and realize, hey, maybe…

You still don’t have a particularly strong connection to any of the people who will benefit from your friend’s project. But you’d really hate to see the dream disappear. You think it over carefully and decide to take the plunge. You’ll raise funds, go to Namibia for six months, finish building the school and get it going properly. You will also find a reliable person to look after it once you’re back home, and who knows, maybe you’ll go back once or twice a year to see how it’s going.

You think you do it because that’s a great way to honour your departed friend. But it’s not. It’s a way to honour the glory.

Your friend wasn’t working on this project for personal gain, or fame, or advancement, or any of that. They didn’t do it for honour. They did it because they saw an urgent need and figured they could help. That’s how most remarkable things are created in this world. By someone who sees a need and figures out a way to help.

Your friend didn’t take on this project to be honoured. But their passion, dedication, hard work and commitment inspired you.

That’s what you honour. The inspiration they gave you. And then you’ll pass it on by inspiring others… who may do nothing at all for school girls in remote Namibia but might hear about your story and decide to volunteer for their local school’s breakfast club.

And on, and on. Until we’re all dead.

Getting there in good time, but not too fast

What love is