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Applying Chivalry to Politics

What happens when we apply chivalry to political issues?
     Some may wonder if we actually should, as if politics is something other than a normal topic of discourse. But how can we not? How could we possibly justify separating the heart and soul of our moral imperatives from political thinking? What would we have, other than the mess we have today? When you think of it, chivalry may be our only hope to improve things.
     Discussing chivalry in relation to political issues does run certain risks. Our respect for freedom means that we want each person to think for himself, and not be led around by a follower mentality. A forum like Chivalry-Now, while espousing this principle, might easily do otherwise.
With this in mind, I shall try to avoid statements that are meant to coerce the reader toward either political extreme, and trust that the reader will be wise enough to recognize when my personal biases slip out, which no doubt they will. Let me state upfront that I am a nonaligned independent who believes that both political extremes are profoundly in error when it comes to certain issues. Some of my biases lean conservative, some liberal, because I think for myself. That is the least I can do for a nation and a world that I respect and love. What's more, my convictions change as I get older and learn more every day. Purposely confronting truth has a way of doing that. I will not blindly defend a position I held previously that I now know is wrong. I would be a cad for doing that, and betray the principles of Chivalry-Now, which I constantly hold dear. This means that I might not agree tomorrow with what I express today. Humility helps us in that regard. Ego would have us defend wrong positions until the bitter end.
Free thought puts us all on equal footing as quest companions, so let's examine how the 12 Trusts might be applied to politics.

Upon my honor,

1) I will develop my life for the greater good.
2) I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth.
3) I will never boast, but cherish humility instead.
4) I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word.

The first four Trusts concern themselves with who we are as people, as individuals, as citizens, whether we enter the political arena or not. A nation is made up of people, and reflects the quality of their beliefs, their values, their honesty, social concern and conscience. On top of that is added what they feel is their purpose in life, their personal meaning in relation to others and the world around them.
These Trusts call for a world where people develop their skills and intelligence not only for their personal gain, but for the greater good of us all. Can you imagine a world where we all shared concern for neighbor that exceeded our concern for riches and power? How about politicians and their supporters committing themselves to telling the truth? The world would radically change overnight for the better.
The next three trusts, along with number 10, are more directly applicable to political issues. They project themselves on how we treat other people in relationship to group dynamics. Isn't that what politics is all about?

5) I will defend those who cannot defend themselves.
6) I will honor and respect women, and avoid sexism in all its guises.
7) I will uphold justice by being fair to all.

10) I will be generous to the poor and those who need help.

These Trusts put selfishness below altruism by raising the Golden Rule to new heights. While it's sufficient to treat others the way you want to be treated, treating them better might be a radically improved philosophy. We are called to defend those in need, sometimes at risk of our own lives, honor and respect women, who have long suffered from male domination, and uphold justice, not just in the court system, but in our daily lives in the way we treat people.
     If we applied these Trusts to politics, what would happen? Would we really defend the helpless of the world? Would we take more concern for the poor and downtrodden? Would we reshape social programs so that they actually improved people's lives instead of sustaining poverty at huge taxpayer expense? Would we strongly combat sexism to ensure equality, and let women decide for themselves whether abortion should be legal or not? Would we admit our own prejudices and try to eradicate them for the sake of fairness?
I put these ideas in the form of questions to signify where my own biases might be leading, without asserting yes or no. There are people who feel justified in ignoring the plights of the helpless or poor, or feel that wronged minorities have been pacified enough, or that women are meant to be subject to the whims of men. They might even believe such things out of so-called religious conviction. The question is, do such convictions coincide with chivalry? Part of your quest is to decide this.
The remaining Trusts return to who we are as people.

8) I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship.
9) I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake nor delight in them.
11) I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven.
12) I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.

Can a man who is faithful in love and loyal in friendship not act to better the world he lives in? He would fail in both love and loyalty.
     Number 9 deals with scandal and gossip. Politicians who engage in such tactics to win votes don't deserve our respect, much less our support. They often leave their minions to do the dirty work in order seem above the fray, thus reaping the benefits while dodging the blame. They should forcibly and unequivocally disavow themselves from dirty politics instead. Only then would they demonstrate the kind of moral leadership worthy of the post.
     Why do we put up with dirty politics? It reflects as badly on us as it does those who engage in it. It corrupts our whole system of government, and places the wrong people in office. Yet somehow we consider it acceptable, part of the way things are and will always be. Such an attitude is not chivalrous. It is one of the dragons we must contend with in order to proceed on our quest.
     The ability to forgive is part of what makes us human, and that applies to politicians as well. Let's place real human beings into office, not rehearsed automatons skilled in deception.
     The last Trust speaks of courtesy and honor. Please differentiate this from bland political correctness and ego-pride. Some politicians feel that honor dictates that they never admit a mistake, that they pose strong and arrogant even when gentleness and wisdom are more appropriate.
     With all this in mind, I have been listening to televised debates of the U.S. candidates for president, trying to seriously find the leader that we need. I've come to no conclusion yet, and will not announce it when I do. Each of us has to make that decision for ourselves.
     But my criterion has changed somewhat over the years, and Chivalry-Now has influenced me in that regard. Of course I want a candidate who is bright, well-meaning and has a admirable presence. I want one who is scrupulously honest and not pandering to fringe elements or special interests. Someone who can change midstream if the situation warrants it, and not sink the ship we are all clinging to for matters of pride.
     But I also want someone who projects new idealism, similar to ours. We need a leader who can encourage idealism, and not just run the government to protect the status quo. That's where Chivalry-Now comes into play. It tells me to think of the future, and not just which party wins, or how it effects my wallet.

(See Chivalry & Politics)


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