following quotations were taken from the book ChivalryThe
Code of Male Ethics:
Making of a Knight Errant
(Page 7) The
foundation of knight errantry tells us that we should never
allow ourselves to be ready-made products, determined solely by
our circumstances of birth or childhood influences. We have the
power to shape ourselves through our deeds and relationships,
through the causes we fight for. This taking control of one's
destiny, the self-discipline to purposefully development yourself
into something strong and good, is really what becoming a man
is all about.
appropriate male ethic for the twenty-first century will never
try to re-establish sexual or cultural dominance. Quite the opposite.
It will contribute to a full and balanced partnership with women,
and with other men as well. It calls for courtesy, and the self-discipline,
energy and strength on which real courtesy is based. It calls
for the willingness to use that purposeful combination for the
good of others.
In many ways, the self-discipline
and self-development that modern chivalry calls for is the very
essence of individuality and freedom. Indeed, the symbol of the
knight errant means nothing elsehence the significance of
avoiding trodden paths while entering the forest.
Individuality, in its purest sense,
cannot be attained from an image we are encouraged to emulatenot
even that of a knight errant. It begins with freedom. Not the
freedom to choose between this image and that. Rather, a freedom
that transcends the egoa direct, uncluttered expression
of your consciousness. To really be free, we have to reject trying
to be anything other than what we are, beneath all the illusions.
The value of our knight errant is
that of a symbol, trying to awaken new thought. As a symbol, he
points to the idea of personal liberation. Leaving the secure
castle in search of the unknown illustrates the conscious mind
responding to life by confronting the risk of possibilities. Boldly
he invites life to test him and teach him to live life to the
fullest. This is the essence of the proverbial quest: living your
life in such a way that the immediate experience of life does
not pass you by. The consciousness of here and now is a relationship
with your surroundings, with people, with the task at hand. It
is an experience too easily lost by thinking about the past, planning
for the future, performing tasks by rote.
Protecting the Weak
Chivalry calls us to be men first
in everything we do. It calls us to be strong, compassionate,
honest, forthcoming, steadfast, and honorable.
It warns us to be prepared, to develop
our capabilities with open minds. It points out that the ability
to act, to respond, is where manhood comes alive, daring to challenge
insurmountable odds, alone if need be, for the good cause. Nature
urges us to be protectors, martyrs if need bewhich is why
we readily follow our comrades onto the battlefield at time of
By defending the weak, we take a
bold step in following a time-honored code of manly behaviorand
promote this code of ethics to other men as well. Heroism inspires
the hero in us all.
Honoring All Women
The decay of family values is a direct
result of our failure to honor the true value of women as individuals
in their own right and work in harmony with them.
It is not asked of us to adopt feminine
qualities (as some social engineers might suggest) but to exhibit
those masculine qualities that are appropriate to family living.
Chivalry speaks of gentleness, that
capacity of a knight to be sensitive and attentive, not from a
sense of weakness or pseudo-femininity, but from manly strength.
In the distractions of this never-ending technological revolution,
our families need this now more than ever.
Defending the Good
Our quest for what is good becomes
clearer when we understand how fundamental it is to the integrity
of our individual lives. The process shapes who we are. While
listening to others, weighing their opinions, purposely searching
for new ideas and greater depth, we grown in personal maturity
and naturally take our places in the world. What else should base
our actions on? The values somebody handed to us when we were
children? This is a matter of integrity that each man has to face
54) We are asked to defend what is
It is sad that such a request needs
to be made! Defending the good should be as natural for a man
as breathing the air.
Unfortunately, it is a sad commentary
on all of us that words like goodness, honor, humility, honesty
and virtue are no longer fashionable. Perhaps only a book reflecting
on medieval chivalry can use them without sounding out-of-touch
with today's reality.
The Meting Out of Justice
Justice is not limited to punishing
wrong-doers. It is a concept that refers to fairness, treating
people in a just and honest way in everything we do. In fact,
we destroy justice when we relegate it to the court system as
some kind of after-the-fact punishment.
Justice directly relates to our
understanding of right and wrong, truth and goodness.
Having the world's largest economy
is no measure of success regarding freedom, morality and ethics.
We find a truer measure in the quality of people's lives. Not
how comfortable they are, or where they go on vacation, but who
they are as individuals.
Justice is the attempt to transform the
chaos of random behavior within a shared moral consistency. It
means doing the right thing.
The civility this offers is not
some lofty idea. It's enduring appeal makes sense to people of
all cultures, as it has throughout the ages. Prophets cried out
for it. Peasants revolted against unjust rulers. Nations were
spilt. Martyrs for justice can be found in every corner of the
Chivalry did not invent justice.
Chivalry embraces it as one of its natural, major tenets.
Courtesy is the means through which
we give justice its due.
Justice is born in the way we treat
one another: polite, friendly, and concerned enough with everyone's
well-being, including our own, to be fair in all our dealings.
This sets the tone for just relationships. In a world where courtesy
flourishes, can there be injustice without immediate recompense?
Justice flows naturally from an honest
quest for truth. One cannot be a knight errant without knowing
this. It is this foundation which requires us to protect the weak,
honor all women, and defend the good. Nothing less than the highest
truth dictates our agenda.
(Page 83, 84) Greed is not the same as
hard work and decent compensation. It is not saving money
for your children's education. It is not occasionally splurging
on yourself, or elevating your family's way of life. It is not
vying for a promotion you well deserve.
Greed is something elsean
almost blind obsession that prompts us to want more and more until
we become blind to our own actions, and do things that border
Greed comes into play when people
mean less to us than money or power or that new house. When that
new promotion urges us to ruin someone else's reputation. When
watching the stock market rise and fall becomes the barometer
of our day. When we see that the uncontrolled burning of oil pollutes
our atmosphere, raises havoc with our weather patterns, finances
terrorism, and rapidly depletes the world of a valuable resource,
and we raise not a finger to curb our wasteful habits, then yes,
we have embraced the destructiveness of greed. That people around
the world look to us as models to emulate only increases our guilt.
Freedom is intrinsically vital to
the human spirit. It is our natural state, subdued only by external
oppression. It is the font of genius and creativity, the essence
of all virtue, the spontaneity of thought and feeling. As human
beings, we are either free, struggling to become free, or stagnantly
entrapped by some oppressive vision of the world.
You cannot really love unless you
love freely. You cannot be a patriot, unless you give yourself
likewise. You cannot be a hero. Indeed, you are only a man when
your personal self-control freely reflects itself in an honorable
No real man would choose otherwise.
What is romantic love?
As the words suggest, it is an idealized
interpretation of love which, in some respects, borders on fantasy.
Romantic love (or amor, for lack
of a better term) is a state of affection between two people that
transcends all other relationships. It is passion that is rooted
not only in sexual attraction, but deeperin the basic urge
for personal self-fulfillment. Usually instigated by a powerful
simpatico with someone special, it expresses what appears to be
an existential need for completion or validation. Only by uniting
with that other person can this need be met. Amor, when it happens
(even when we think it happens), is a powerful, life-transforming
(Page 92) Romantic love elevates consciousness
from the mundane of everyday living to a higher level of experience.
It is not illusion per se. It makes us see things in a new light.
That being said, I agree with cynics
who say that romantic love exists only in our imaginations. What's
wrong with that? Existing only in the mind makes amor as real
as any other virtuous ideal, for it is the nature of an ideal
to reflect itself through our aspirations. Our response is what
makes them real. Is loyalty something that lives outside of human
dynamics? Courage? Honesty? Temperance? Hope? Honor? Justice?
These are all constructs of the mind. They don't exist on their
own. We give them substance though the way we live.
94) Looking back on the harsh realities
of medieval times, it might seem strange that the ethical code
of the seasoned warrior included matters of the heartbut
Chivalry would be incomplete if
it ignored the vast arena of gender relationships, just as men
are incomplete when they don't know how to relate with women.
We need such an ethic today.
Love represents the final culmination
of chivalry. Why? Because it challenges us to take our ideals
seriously by applying them to our relationshipsevery day!
What good are ideals if they remain separate from who we are?
In this context, our relationships
with women challenge us like nothing else can.
97) Love is the highest religious
impulse there is.
For one thing, it the most personal.
It affirms the individual as a creature capable of love, while
affirming the beloved as worthy of such love.
It is also the most real. It is not transubstantiation. It is
not an ancient relic. It is not praying into the silence hoping
to be heard, or feelings of guilt that disaffirm the very life
we would otherwise enjoy.
It flourishes on truth. Romantic
love, despite its romanticized tendencies, actually requires the
shedding of illusions. Each person must be completely revealed
in order to be accepted. That this experience touches the mystery
of life makes it transcendent.
It is the impulse toward union.
If God is love, than the union it begets is nothing less than
an act of God in our personal lives. Indeed, amor makes spiritual
love tangible. In this, worship is made more real.
It is a daily sacrifice of self,
while humbly accepting the beneficence of someone else.
It brings new life into the world.
Indeed, it is life itself.
Love includes faith in that other
person, and hope as well.
Its spiritual intensity can be likened
We draw life from its beauty, security
from its steadfastness, joy from its levity and tenacity.
Most mysterious of all, in moments
of serene quiet, we discover the sublime.
109) Power, aggression, vanity and pride
conflict with all the positive ideals that chivalry represents.
A man who is full of himself has little interest in the quest
for truth. He cannot see women as equals. Justice is degraded
into the concept of might makes right. He may defend the weak
when he has a mind to, but not for the right reason. Romantic
love? Impossible. The love of self is too prominent.
The humble person never assumes he
has all the answers. He is careful and weighs the evidence even
against the possibility of his own prejudice. He seeks the truth
that transcends political agendas. By always remaining a student
of life, he is not a fool.
We are only humanall of us.
We make mistakes. Our perception of reality is and always will
be limited. Money cannot define us. If we believe that it can,
what does that say of our values? Without following meticulous
hygiene, our bodies smell like those of any other beast of the
field. We get moody. We hurt other people. We turn our backs on
the suffering of others, while idolizing celebrities who are just
as human and fallible.
In other words, we have good reason
to be humble.
Our system is basically good, and
yet it sacrificed something intangible when it elevated law above
humanity. Victims become further victimized by professional advocates
who have no interest in justice, but in winning alone. Prosecutors,
bogged down by heavy caseloads, often weigh their decisions by
availability of time. Words like right and wrong are spoken only
to invoke a convenient tug of conscience now and then. In reality,
they are superseded by other words, such as expedience, loopholes
for the rich, and plea bargaining.
The Knight and his Sword
Can you imagine a Round Table of
bright, intelligent people (not just men), all dedicated to the
task of setting things right? I'm not talking about a representatives
of special interests, each with his or her own agenda. That would
be far too limited. A preferred agenda uniting them all would
be a dedication to truth and a desire for action and results.
Think of what this Round Table could accomplishif only through
Instead, we are impeded with a faceless
politically correct, corporate mentality that believes that no
one is responsible, no one to blameas if the problems of
the world just appeared out of thin air.
The system we live in today does
not allow for true heroes to step forward. There is no door to
enter, no castle to storm, no innocent victim to rescue. Most
destructive of all, there is no honorable leader deserving of
our loyalty and respect.
The enemy is faceless. We look for
him everywhere, and see only ourselves.
There is reason for that.
The enemy is our own deprivation
of heroic self.
Religion and the Knight Errant
Medieval faith was imbued with an
existential dimension that is, for the most part, missing today.
It revered not only scripture and tradition, but the very mystery
of existence which religion underscored and tried to explain.
Unable to comprehend the scientific understanding of things we
now take for granted, spiritual reality seemed reasonable indeed.
We tend to forget that science,
as informative and reliable as it is, does explain everything.
Even with the help of Darwin's theory of evolution, the origins
of life on earth are veiled within a greater mystery that points
to existence itself. We came from this mystery. Our conscious
lives remain part of it.
The beauty of the cult of male virtue
is its capability for uniting men of good will. We do not
have to agree with each other on every subject, belong to the
same organizations, or even salute the same flag. Believers and
nonbelievers can be people of the highest integrity. So can conservatives
and liberalsand people of other cultures with whom we seem
to have little in common. We remain men first. Our disagreements
are the result of the freedom we hold so dear.
King Arthur's Knights
That we exist within a unity of life,
however, makes the consequences of our actions are very important.
They ripple beyond our immediate circle, surviving us in ways
we can't imagine. Our very presence affects all that surrounds
us, for good or ill.
In this regard, our lives have serious
impact on the world. Our personal dignity is decided upon by the
direction we take in our everyday affairs.
If we do not cultivate nobility
in our souls, then yes, we deserve a fate that is meaningless.
The wages of sin, after all, is death.
If we take claim of our nobility,
if we rise above our lowest urges, we deserve better.
The virtues of chivalry are clear
about such things. They offer no false promises or empty consolations.
We have a distinct choice in life: to be a hero or a coward.
Which will it be? With one, we gain
the fullness of our adventures, tragedies and joy. With the other,
we wallow in the mud of superficial living, consuming far more
than we contribute. This last choice is an insult to the universe
itselfthat the miracle of life that it created has gone
(Page 159, 160) The truth is, we can
never be armor-clad knights like those associated with King
Arthur. Those days are gone. Chivalry will not reward us with
land or castles or a princess. What it can reward us with is an
identity we can be proud of, one that contributes positively to
the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us. Isn't
that what life is all about?
The chivalry espoused in this book
is not just a code of ethics. It is a spiritual quest for personal
development meant to carry us to higher levels of awareness. It
affirms our intrinsic value to the universe, because it affirms
our direction as men.
The Holy Grail
The Quest for the Holy Grail is not
easily defined. Its philosophical roots are far more complex than
the romances let on, and probably more profound than their authors
realized. Even today we struggle with its secrets. In that respect,
our striving to understand the Grail connects us to that original
quest. Like those original Knights of the Round Table, we know
we may failyet we continue to search, knowing that the search
itself is is worth all our efforts.
That Special Lady
Nowhere is a commitment to chivalry
more crucial than in our love relationships. Living with a woman
brings all our beliefs and values into playnot just for
an hour, or five workdays a week, but daily for the rest of our
lives. We discover who we really are in the eyes of the woman
we love. She has invested her happiness in who we are as men.
She sees us when our guard is down, and picks us up when we fail.
She is our partner and most excellent friend. If our love is true,
she is also the source of our greatest inspirationthe person
for whom we most want to succeed.
Choosing the right woman is only
half the battle. What you bring to the table is just as important.
For one thing, you want to own the personal qualities that will
attract the woman of our dreams. How else can you foster a positive,
This is where chivalry serves us
well. Heterosexual women want and need men who are completenot
helpless, unruly boys dressed up to look strong and aggressive.
This means someone with the qualities that chivalry advocates:
honest, loyal, just, supportive, reliable, kind, protective and
loving. They want partners they can trust, who will be there for
them through thick and thin.
When you think of it, we want the
same thing. It is appropriate to look for this in prospective
mate, but have to work to develop it in ourselves.
To men who mistakenly insist on being
the head of the family, I humbly suggest that when it comes to
the warmth, function and well-being of family, it is the heart
which is more important. That heart is generally found in the
wife and mother. When you realize that, and really understand
it, your proper and still valuable role in the household more
naturally falls in place. The longing for kingship is often the
cause of misery for everyone involved. Better to be a knight.