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of the most popular images of chivalry is that of St. George
slaying the Dragon. It was a commitment of the Round Table Knights
to rid the land of such evils as well.
As we try incorporating chivalry into
our lives, we need to understand what this image symbolizes for
There are plenty of dragons that need
to be confronted. Poverty. Ignorance. War. Terrorism. Environmental
issues. Racism. Sexism. Pollution. The energy crisis. Alcoholism.
Drug addiction. Pedophilia. The abuse of women and children. All
these social dragons bring death to our society, one way or another.
There are other dragons as well, enemies
not quite so obvious, that are adversarial to chivalry. These crop
up from the business world, where advertisements and market strategies
perform what can only be described as social engineering. Their
purpose? Profit. They want to shape us into soulless consumers dedicated
to purchasing whatever they want us to buy.
The root of the problem is not capitalism.
It is the choices that business people make to overwhelm us with
messages and images that suit their marketing needs while deteriorating
our culture. Along with the entertainment industry, they present
us with shallow, negative or dysfunctional male images. Since our
culture fails to give us anything better, these images have a far
greater influence shaping boys and men than they should. We need
to see them for the destructive illusions that they are.
People who conjure these dragons try
to convince us that there is nothing wrong with certain vices. They
go so far as to infer that virtue is naïve, even stupidcertainly
not part of the "in-crowd." This last part may be true.
Our principles do separate us from the in-crowd. But the knight
errant is far from naïve. His search for truth helps him see
through the illusions that would make him so. He is not stupid.
What is more intelligent than seeing illusions for what they are,
and adhering to a more profound vision of reality?
There are powerful politicians who
treat the people of our nation as if we were all ignorant of their
distortions of truth, or public relation strategies. They have lost
sight of Americans ideals, even as they speak of them. They have
been seduced by power, and by a system that has lost its heart.
We see them in both parties. If they say what we like, we may even
vote for them. While there are good politicians who take their charge
seriously, the fallen ones are given too much influence and exposure.
There are personal dragons to consider,
ideas that prevent us from self-development, from helping others,
from leading completely honest lives. Greed is chief among theman
insecure ego, not far behind. They include fear. Insecurity. The
need to follow the crowd. Habitual anger. Misogyny. Distorted ideas
of what it means to be a man. These are the dragons that the knight
errant has to face early on during the process of his questwhich
is, of course, his life. If he does not face and conquer them, they
impair his journey like a mortal wound.
There are many ways to confront and defeat these dragons.
television ads appeal to your ego to buy a gas-guzzling SUV, thus
increasing our dependency on Mideast Oil and depleting natural
resources as quickly as we can, go purchase a gas-economy car
or hybrid. (Car manufacturers actually blame us for selling inefficient
vehicles, even as they fight against higher fuel standards.)
rap singers denigrate women, change the channel and refuse to
buy their CDs.
tabs on your political representatives and let them know how you
feel about the issues. (E-mail makes this easy.)
support honest politicians, but make sure they are honest to begin
with. They won't warn you if they're not.
to put your ego aside in all your dealings.
play follow-the-leader. Think for yourself.
sexual stereotypes. See women for the complex and noble people
who they are. You will be happier in the end.
racism, sexism, homophobia and ethnocentrism. In other words,
put prejudices aside and let truth set you free.
list goes on. The important thing is to be honest and strong and
stand up for something good, some cause that will make a difference.
That's how dragons are defeated and true knighthood (which is every
man's possibility) is attained.