would not be complete without confronting the topic of racism.
Because the essence of Chivalry-Now
gives us the strength, courage and conviction to face all our problems
head on and there is no stain more pernicious to the well-being
of our culture than racism, despite all attempts to eradicate or
Racism is one of those large-scale sins
that cannot be easily discarded or tucked away. It produces shame
so deep that it is difficult to look at, much less confront it with
strong-willed commitment. The very hint of being "racist"
draws the ire of most people who embrace racist ideas. The introduction
of the word often subverts meaningful dialog.
It is important to understand that shame,
and the difficulty in facing it, forms an impediment to healing.
But heal we must. Racism, in its many forms,
has held all of us back too long. Whether we are the victims or
the perpetrators, it wounds us all.
The first barrier to overcome is our tendency
to point to someone else's guilt, as if that somehow ameliorates
our own. ("Why pick on us? They do it too.")
It is true that forms of prejudice, the
buidling blocks of racism, are pretty common. To use such a misleading
excuse as a dodge, however, shows how serious our problem is. That
others might feel prejudice as well means nothing to our own culpability.
Confessing the sins of others is merely a sad attempt to downplay
our own. It is the coward's path, and incompatible with Chivalry-Now.
The right thing to do, if we will be true
to our own ideals, is to admit our wrongs and do our best to fix
Consider: As soon as you accept this corrective
role, your culpability changes. You become a defender of what is
right and true, no longer a reluctant, shame-driven champion for
past wrongs. Your whole outlook changes.
If you look at racism for what it is, you
will see how it betrays our finest ideals as Americans. Each race
is comprised of individuals no two people exactly alike.
To lump entire populations into caricatures of race is baselss from
the very start.
people feel the need to believe they are superior because of the
group they belong to. It may be a particular race, or religion or
profession. But what does that mean? Doesn't this stem from an insecurity
that contradicts its very premise? Taking pride from someone else's
achievements says nothing about you as a person. You can only take
authentic pride from who you are and what you do and looking
down on other people is nothing to be proud of. Being part of a
particular race does not somehow expiate your sins, or make you
inherently more intelligent, kind or courteous. You have to do these
things yourself, no matter who you are or where your ancestors came
second thing we have to do is admit past sins. Suffice
it to say, we tarnish our highest ideals with hypocrisy. We bend
the law of human decency, whether it was procure cheap labor or
grab someone else's resources.
- We spoke
of freedom for all while enslaving Africans.
- We spoke
of human rights while decimating our native population.
- We spoke
of democracy while denying women the right to vote.
has been made in rectifying these three great offenses, tough scars
of resistance remain, along with scars of denial that impede our
relationship with conscience.
We need the courage to face these hypocrisies
and see them for what they are. There is no other way to purge them
from our lives.
Historically, western colonialism was based
on a form of racism, claiming lands and resources that belonged
to other people. Today, we have the exploitation of impoverished
workers, both domestically and in foreign lands. The assumption
that the poor of other lands are not worthy of the same rights and
protections as our own, makes clear our mindset of putting aside
our fundamental beliefs for the lure of profit. Greed propagates
racism as much as fear and ignorance.
What does all this have to do with Chivalry-Now?
It strikes the very heart of our ideals. Bigotry is a disease of
the heart and soul. Like a cancer, it migrates into other areas
in one's life until it destroys it altogether.
Hatred and bigotry fundamentally corrupt
the foundation of personal honor and integrity. How could
the dichotomy of belief be otherwise? Honor and integrity are nothing
but a pernicious façade without the fire of inner conscience
bringing them to life.
How can we speak of justice if it
does not include everyone? How do we defend what is right by ignoring
what is wrong, no matter how well hidden? If courtesy is not genuine,
if we extend it only to those "like us," it becomes a
meaningless ritual and all our relationships suffer.
There is no humility in racial discrimination.
Quite the opposite. Nothing more amply illustrates the sin of baseless,
self-serving and degenerative pride.
If we love our culture, and there
is much that deserves our love, we need to rescue it from every
trace of racism and sexism. We start to do that when we awaken ourselves
first. This quest is as much internal as it is social.
The greatness of our ideals provides us
the fortitude to openly face our collective shame and correct it.
Our own scruples push us to make things right, despite hundreds
of years of our own resistance.
And when people tell you that they, themselves,
never owned slaves, or their ancestors were not here at the time
of slavery, or that they just ignore minorities with a "live
and let live" attitude, know in your heart of hearts that such
quips provide no answer. The fact is that the problem of racism
exists. It is our duty to challenge it as the last great dragon
of our mutual quest. The wrongness of an act does not depend on
our initiating it, but on our subtle support, our denial, our lack
of speaking up for what is right.
not hate the racist. He or she is as much as victim of it as
anyone else, shaping his or her life. It is our duty, when opportunity
calls, to eliminate that blindness and shame with firm understanding
and concern. Confrontation may sometimes be necessary, even outright
contention. Just remember, contention usually provokes resistance.
We want to encourage open minds, not closed