The International Fellowship of Chivalry-Now

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How to Start Your own Round Table

Round Table hanging in Winchester Castle.
Click Photo to Enlarge.

Chivalry-Now encourages participating in a group process, some sort of Brotherhood of the Code.
     When two or more people meet to discuss things on a regular basis, using chivalry as a basic theme, the idea of participating in a brotherhood is fulfilled. One need not belong to such a group, but the benefits derived from such companionship are many.
     Fellowship can be important to the propagation and steadfastness of chivalry. Having regular discourse with men who share similar values helps to encourage and expand one's views of manhood. You can learn through someone else's perspective, while helping others to learn from yours, raising the level of chivalry among everyone in the group. You can present problems and ask for advice, or direct assistance. It gives you a support group of friends who will not lead you astray.
     You can support good causes as a group. Have book discussions. Share viewings of movies. Discuss themes or issues. Devise traditions or rituals that support chivalry and group cohesiveness.
     Such personal sharing among men is nothing new. It occurred in earliest times as men gathered around the campfire sharing details of the hunt, and later filled medieval halls to feast and tell stories and solidify bonds of loyalty and friendship.
     Unfortunately, such group dynamics among males is largely absent from today's society. Boys night out usually ends up at a bar where self-improvement and bonds of brotherhood are not on the agenda. Men turn to drinking and drugs and even aberrant behavior because of what is culturally lacking for males. We mourn and anesthetize ourselves to the emptiness we inherit. Our personal value has been depreciated to our income levels, or job prestige, or winning the rat race instead of something more significant. Even our families often fail to recognize us as complete human beings, and there's good reason for that. We often fail to see ourselves as complete as well, which pushes us to the next drink, or next meaningless conquest. Our political system, which was supposed to empower the common citizen, is run in such a way as to leave us feeling powerless.
     Feminism has been a blessing for men as well as women, for it has helped correct social ills that have long plagued our society. With the rise of women's rights, however, men look at themselves and found nothing comparable beyond the requirement of the assembly line. They suffer from what the industrial age took away from father/son relationships, and the kind of pride that comes from raising your own crops, or building something with your hands. In many respects, we have become cogs in an economic machine that dehumanizes people. We are bombarded by market-driven messages that would reduce all of us to being consumers and nothing else.
     Chivalry-Now offers something concrete and culturally rooted that can alleviate the cultural deprivation men feel. Group dynamics can help bring this about. They carry the intrinsic value of the clan, or brotherhood, a mutually shared commonality that the culture of chivalry can thrive on.

First Meetings

New members need to be introduced to what Chivalry-Now is all about. Explaining the virtues and goals of this ethic might take several sessions. It begins with a short description, and then goes on to more deeply explain the individual virtues that comprise Chivalry-Now. A leader will facilitate this introduction. Once the introduction is complete, the new member should have an appreciative understanding of the group, which makes him a Friend of the Round Table . Later on, if the member wishes to make a commitment to Chivalry-Now and to the membership of the group, he can take a pledge making him a Brother of the Code. Knighthood, would provide the highest tier attainable.

Establishing Rules

The rules of chivalry must be applied to the dynamics of group discourse. That means sharing mutual respect and courtesy at all times. Listen with an open mind and encourage others to share their opinions. No outbursts or personal insults. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak and is never intimidated or made to feel unwelcome. Each man should be considered a brother to all.

Traditions and/or Rituals

Traditions and Rituals add a special dimension of solemnity to group dynamics. They use symbols to express what words cannot, and allow participants to directly experience the myth or value that they represent. They also allow for continuity of message over time.
     King Arthur's Round Table offers the most obvious and meaningful example of a chivalric men's group, and is therefore valuable to emulate. Here men meet in a circle that represents the equality of their membership, no matter what their vocation or monetary worth. Once a year, on a recognized holyday, the members would repeat their original vows of chivalry and loyalty. Members would discuss their accomplishments and failures in an honest fashion among their peers, and fashion strong bonds of brotherhood. In a sense, they formed their own mutual support group.
     As a tradition, the members can mull around waiting for everyone to arrive. They are then called to stand in the circle as the meeting is called to order, and then sit as a group.
Newly formed groups have to have a leader well-versed in Chivalry-Now, who can, or the span of several meetings, instruct the membership about the finer aspects of this male ethic. Workshops can also be held as time goes on for future members. Literature can be prepared and handed out.
     A leader should be democratically elected once the group has a sense of self-identity, with new leadership voted on once every year or two. So-called elders can serve as consultants.
     The membership has to decide how often it will meet.
     The original Round Table kept one chair empty. It was called the Seige Perilous. It was reserved for the advent of the perfect knight. This tradition could be carried on, with the empty chair reserved for all the men who have not yet embraced chivalry, whom should be considered future members. It could also represent a place reserved for King Arthur.
     A pledge should be formulated by the membership that will be repeated once per year.
     Those members who wish to seriously advance themselves according to Chivalry-Now, can take another, more committed pledge, which would be accompanied by a special ceremony (such as anointing oil on the forehead by the leader). The 12 Trusts can serve as a model. Their commitment can be differentiated from the rest of the group by calling them Brothers of the Code, while everyone else is a Friend of the Round Table. A higher degree of commitment or accomplishment can result in the bestowing of Knighthood, by anointing both forehead, throat and hands. Striking the shoulder should also be included as part of the induction, since this has roots in the original induction. An hour of contemplative solitude might precede this ceremony.
     The important thing is to keep things simple and avoid farce. Members should not be treated differently accord to degree, other than the bestowing of knighthood has to come from another knight who recommend or sponsors the acolyte..
     Holidays offer special occasions to celebrate and start new traditions. Religious holidays might not be the best pick, if your membership includes non-religious people or those of different faiths. Winter Solstice, for example, can celebrated by holding a party in which members can bring their partners for a Yuletide feast with decorations and a blazing fire. Each person can write a wish on a piece of paper which is then collected on a platter. The wishes are then aloud read by the youngest (or oldest) member, who then throws the piece of paper into the flames. Special honors or recognition can be made for those who accomplished the most impressive achievements. Music can be provided by CD or a live chorus.

Political Involvement

Group meetings can involve far more than just social group dynamics. Indeed, they can serve as a vehicle for political involvement. More specifically, it lends itself well to civil political discussion on pertinent issues. The members, if so moved, can then contact their elected representative to share their views. There can be no finer method of citizen involvement in the democratic system. Here we have intelligent adults discussing issues, sharing their opinions, educating one another in civil discourse, followed by contacting representatives. If such groups were commonplace throughout America, our democratic system would be far more powerful and reflective of the people's will.
     When representatives receive letters or emails from everyday citizens, they consider each contact to represent fifty to a hundred people who did not bother to write. Just think! Your letter carries the weight of fifty to a hundred people! Politicians take such contacts very seriously. If you are taking the time and energy to write to your representatives, they know that the issue is important to vocal and knowledgeable members of their constituency. They respond. The more letters they receive, the more influenced they become.
     Letter writing empowers us as citizens, placing us in the dynamic political position where we belong. This is a powerful responsibility, and should not be taken lightly. It is important that we study the issues we write about, and articulate our opinions as intelligently as possible.
     Rules for discourse have to be formulated at these meetings, so that every voice is heard and respected. Time limits are possible. Personal insults cannot be allowed. Members should be encouraged to listen with an open mind, and not try to force people into sharing their opinions.

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