February 14, 2010
of the warrior ethic have existed throughout history and can
be found in all cultures. The warrior was valued as the community's
protector from outside attack. He was expected to be brave, strong,
clever and honest - a good foundation for any ethic. As time went
on, these qualities expanded both in depth and application, contributing
to the cultural values around them.
In the West we see examples of these values
in myth, song, epic poems, historical legends, and social hierarchy,
where warriors formed an elite class with special obligations and
privileges. Europe became a virtual melting pot of Greek, Roman,
Celtic and Germanic warrior traditions.
During the High Middle Ages, these traditions
became more formalized and refined, while adopting Christian influences.
Contact with the Middle East introduced further dimension, along
with a reclaiming of Greek heritage that was previously lost.
The result was a warrior code known as chivalry
which defined the beliefs and behavior of knights. This code was
considered so admirable, that it influenced the Western concept
of being a gentleman.
While the code was popularly understood
through the vehicle of literature and song, it was never formalized
into a single code. As it became more and more identified with the
manners of a gentleman, it lost some of its fundamental meaning.
This was exacerbated by the coming of the Industrial Age, which
changed the relationships between fathers and sons, breaking the
traditional means of cultural transmission. Although chivalry maintained
a certain appeal, it became disconnected from its philosophical
depth. Eventually, it was thought of as a quaint veneer of courtesy
and manners, especially toward women, rather than a well established
personal ethic. Instead of evolving with the times, it fell into
The purpose of Chivalry-Now is to
reclaim this philosophical depth in order to heal our ailing culture.
Even a cursory examination reveals how today's male ethics are in
sharp decline. Chivalry-Now articulates a new code of ethics appropriate
for the times. By incorporating valuable lessons learned since the
fall of chivalry, it presents something uniquely valid for our current
You can think of Chivalry-Now as
chivalry evolved. The following presents a short
outline of what that means.
From the Age of Enlightenment, which
in many ways gave birth to the modern mind, it incorporates the
imperative of free thought and direct, personal discovery as vital
ingredients of the knightly quest. The idea of Nature's Law
that Thomas Jefferson quoted is not so much a legal reference,
but a fusion of thought and conscience that frees the individual
into a more authentic life. Reason replaces superstition, giving
new vitality and applicability to virtue. Value is given to tradition,
but not in a way that limit progress. Virtue is recognized for its
own intrinsic value as part of human nature, not just a response
to reward and punishment. From here we glean respect for citizen
government, democracy, free speech, civil rights and aspirations
toward equality. Nature becomes something we learn from, rather
The Romantic Age gave us a look into
the mystery of life and nature. Whereas Enlightenment thinkers approached
nature clinically, Romantics focused on reverence and awe, which
is a vital part of the individual's quest. Enlightenment and Romance
are not opposites as many claim, but complimentary dimensions of
our experience and understanding of the world.
Existentialism gained popularity
in Europe after the unprecedented devastation of World War II. Survivors
had to grapple with the absurd inhumanity of life that arose from
blitzkrieg, Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Human depravity, along with
new and efficient machinations for killing, seemed to obliterate
the nobility of human nature we once believed in. Totalitarian and
fascist regimes sharply contended with the ideals of freedom and
liberal democracy that were still in the testing phase. Traditions
were exploited. Nationalism displaced common decency. Whatever positive
image we had of human nature was lost in the carnage.
Existentialism offered a means to reclaim human dignity by focusing
on the individual and human choice. It told us not to passively
accept the unconscious choices that shape our lives. We need to
resist the homogenizing influences that society poses, not only
of totalitarian and fascist regimes, but of political ideologies
and commercialism as well. We are then able to create who we are,
which is the essence of freedom. This gives us the means to survive
the distractions and coercions of modern society with dignity. The
insanity of racism, sexism, nationalism, communism, and all the
other "isms" need not define us. When they do, we become
mere products, and are not free.
Jungian psychology shows how the
quest, long recognized in myth and legend, remains central to who
we are as human beings. It opens doors into our subconscious in
order to learn from and appreciate mythical archetypes that we all
share. The characters from medieval literature, from which chivalry
sprang, describe aspects of our personalities that fortify us when
we understand them. In short, the idea of the quest becomes a psychological
journey that brings with it abundant life.
Feminism raised awareness of the
sexist attitudes that were endemic in Western culture despite the
prevailing belief in freedom, justice, equal rights and fairness.
Feminism freed us from our own philosophical hypocrisy and made
partnership between the genders more equitable.
Chivalry-Now derives its power through
all these elements, and more.
One might considered it conservative in that it preserves
what is best from the past and from tradition, and approaches change
with reasonable caution. It is liberal in that it
promotes free thought, refuses to preserve what is wrong, and embraces
change that is necessary and beneficial. It relies on common sense,
and sense that is not so common - in other words, the complete psyche
of a complete person.
What we call the quest is
a process or attitude toward life through which personal completeness
is achieved. It confronts every moment with a willingness to learn
and respond to life directly. From this we gain the kind of authenticity
that puts us in control of our lives.
In order to help us on our individual quests
we have compiled an updated code of ethics drawn from the heart
of chivalry that we call the 12 Trusts. Here we find an simple,
nonsectarian expression of chivalry that is appropriate for today's
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.
5. I will defend those who cannot defend themselves.
6. I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its
7. I will uphold justice by being fair to all.
8. I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship.
9. I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake nor delight
10. I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help.
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
By adhering to these 12 Trusts, I swear to partake in the living
Quest in everything I do.
While the web
site and book provide ample introduction to Chivalry-Now,
those who wish a fuller understanding of its cultural depth can
find much more to learn. Companions are given access to Esoterica,
teachings that include such concepts as Nature's Law, reason,
kairos (an event that transforms human consciousness), aletheia
(truth), areté (the greatest good), grail consciousness,
ordo mundi (our relationship with nature), and telos
(our inherent purpose and meaning).
That Chivalry-Now will continue to
develop over time is reasonably assumed. Stagnation is the demise
of any philosophy. Life is change. As the world changes, we must
respond appropriately, preserving what is best, not through shortsighted
resistance, but as participants who are cognizant of the flux of
It does well to think that our individual
quests are part of a greater Quest for human development.