it comes to politics, it is up to every man and woman to decide
what issues to support, which candidate to vote for, and to what
extent he or she wants to get involved. Chivalry has no say about
those things, other than to encourage a broad application of personal
virtues to your involvement. Truth, justice, civility, concern for
people, and a strong regard for freedom are chief among them.
In the United States, our Constitution
is such that it merits a distinct measure of loyalty, which extends
itself to all three branches of government. This is not to say that
we cannot question our elected officials and the choices they make.
It is, in fact, our duty to question things, and sharply rebuke
bad leadership. This is not disloyalty. In a democracy, our leaders
represent us. It would be disloyal on our part not to watch, investigate,
make suggestions, criticize when necessary and demand personal integrity.
That's what the United States government is all about. To do otherwise
betrays the heart and soul of our great nation.
Chivalry embraces both liberal and
conservative issues, for it recognizes merit on both sides. It values
the competing tension of both ideologies. Disagreements between
left and right do not reflect a lack of chivalry per se. How disagreements
are expressed, and the strategies they lead to, however, either
honors the virtues of chivalry or denies them. There lies our ethical
concern with politics as practiced now. The antics we see in Washington
on a daily basis makes a mockery of all our ideals, and insults
the vision of our founders.
We hear about spin and disinformation,
cherry-picking intelligence. We see the ongoing defense of party
issues that are basically indefensible. We are subjected to ideological
wars that we, the people, do not endorse. We share the guilt of
corrupt leaders when we see and hear and even despise their actions,
but allow them to continue.
If we embrace the ideals of chivalry,
if we expect virtuous behavior from the men and women who represent
us, if we are to be a moral nation in more than name only, then
we, the people, have to make it so. The dynamics of today's politics
are morally shameful in their lack of integrity and empty, meaningless
To the individual, chivalry provides
a moral paradigm that breeds good citizenship and political awareness.
For starts, it elevates truth, the complete truth, to prime importance.
Democracy does not work if its leaders lie or disguise the truth
from their constituents. Truth might not sound good at the time,
or appeal to our egos, or flatter national pride, or blind us to
the moral results of our actions. But it is real, and that makes
all the difference in the world. National illusions detract from
our moral efficacy.
Chivalry also calls for fairness,
and helping those in need. It calls for sacrifice in the very best
ethical traditions, not the small-minded self-interest of the charlatan
or thief. It calls for honor and civility, not the vulgarities of
There is more. Chivalry demands the
kind of personal integrity that does not allow you to sell your
soul to extremism, or the charisma of leaders, good or bad. If you
support everything liberal out of hand, or everything
conservative, then something is wrong. Your vision
of the world has been poisoned by extremism, which has led to this
unseemly war of American ideologies.
If you adopt the exact political conclusions
of your family or friends, then they are ready made products that
are not your own. In a true democracy, which so depends on the
integrity of its people, even more than it depends on the integrity
of its leaders, having an open mind is paramount to our responsibilities.
Militant extremists are not what America needs. They are anathema
to the very soul of America, which was woven by visionary and independent
We are not our flag. We are not a
particular religion, or race, or dominant gender. We, the people,
are merely thatpeople! We must respect honest
differences and discard the special interest forces that divide
us. If we do not, the humanitarian dream that the United States
represents will fail miserably. And we will bear the
We like to think of ourselves as world
leaders, yet shirk the moral responsibilities such leadership entails.
It is time we take a moral inventory of our rhetoric versus our
true beliefs, and hold leaders fiercely accountable for what they
say and do.
Chivalry does not ask us to be liberal
or conservative. It tells us, rather, to view things with an open
and educated mind. It tells us that we are duty-bound to understand
the issues we vote on, and see through the political spin that bombards
us on the nightly news. We have to look beyond the shallow sound-bites
of our tinsel-town media.
The decisions we have to evaluate
almost never fall completely within party-lines. We have to beware
of what issues are placed before us that distract us from the greater
good. And yes, sometimes the issue we are called to vote for will
go against our own selfish interests. True morality is not about
justifying our ingrained weaknesses.
This is how the self-discipline of
chivalry provides us with qualities of citizenship and political
involvement that extremists would pull us away from.