This week I was “honored” (sorry, couldn’t resist) to be involved in one of the many National Honor Society Induction Ceremonies that occur across America. Officially established in 1921 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the NHS ranks as one of the oldest and most prestigious national organizations recognizing outstanding high school students.
Four main purposes guide the National Honor Society: “To create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, and to develop character.” NHS selection criteria is based on these same four purposes. Which given the current chaos in Washington, DC got me wondering, “How many members of Congress were inducted into the NHS way back when?” After all, what they learned then might serve them well now…
SCHOLARSHIP “Learning furnishes the lamp by which we read the past, and the light which illuminates the future.” (Learn from past mistakes and try not to repeat them.)
SERVICE “…work without monetary compensation or without personal recognition for the benefit of those in need…” (Serve for others, not for yourself.)
LEADERSHIP “…the willingness to yield one’s personal interests for the interest of others.” (“Others” meaning the nation as a whole, not just lobbyists or a small minority of your rabidly-vocal local constituents.)
CHARACTER “…is the product of constant action, daily striving to make the right choice.” (Action over words or sound bytes and making the right choice not just the self-serving choices that get you re-elected.)
When inducted, NHS members take a pledge “to prove by example that we value character. An untarnished character. To endeavor intelligently and courageously to be a leader.” Because “no matter what power and resources may exist in a country, they are ineffectual without the guidance of a wise leader.” Don’t we as a country deserve members of Congress who are “wise leaders?” Striving in every way by word and deed? “Leadership is always needed and is thus a charge to each of our National Honor Society members.”
Perhaps members of Congress would be well-served to find their old NHS pins from high school, remove the tarnish, and remember what they pledged then still applies now. Because you’re in Congress and the NHS motto “Noblesse Oblige” requires you to: “Act in a fashion that conforms with one’s position. An obligation to behave honorably, generously, and responsibly to others.”