it possible for a warrior ethic to play a positive role in the cause
of world peace?"
The question was raised at Harmony
House following our presentation on Chivalry-Now. The
warrior connection of chivalry obviously provided
a stumbling block for the woman who asked, and perhaps others as
The cultural roots of chivalry as
a warrior tradition cannot be denied. In fact, this is one of the
reasons why it resonates so powerfully among men, even today. And
women too. It represents the warrior spirit, which always maintained
an honorable place in human cultureperhaps less so today.
Nowadays, we see quite clearly the terrible results of war, the
misery it brings, the threat it carries to all the world. Chivalry-Now
recognizes this undeniable truth.
But there is more to the warrior
spirit than engaging in battle. There are aspects that provide
both inner and outer dimensions to the overall human spirit that
would otherwise leave us incomplete. While our just longing for
peace and harmony might prompt us to reject anything associated
with war, we do so only at our peril.
Medieval chivalry represented a
turning point in our concept of the warrior, at least in Western
culture. Although warriors were always valued as protectors of society,
chivalry added new dimensions of responsibility and civility. The
warrior tradition became more civilized, although the final goal
was never really achieved during those difficult times.
Why is this important? Because the
warrior spirit provides a number of qualities that are extremely
valuable to our overall humanity. Today's sensibilities might not
recognize this at first, so repulsed we are with war and killing
and brutality. This is understandable. Warlike tendencies have always
been a curse on humanity. The warrior spirit, however,
is something different.
What do I mean by warrior
- It is an
intensity of life, filled with energy and a readiness to act when
- A desire
to perfect oneself for the benefit of others.
- An inner
determination to protect one's family, neighborhood, nation and
and the sanity to do what is right and good.
- Doing one's
best in everything.
- Being true
to stand up for what is right, even when everyone is against you.
coupled with realism.
- A sense of
duty greater than one's selfish needs.
attributes do contribute to the mindset of a good soldier, they
are valuable qualities that everyone can benefit from. Indeed, we
are less for the want of them.
Perhaps the Chinese illustrate this
best in their symbol of tai chi, or the Grand
Ultimate. We've all seen it. A circle divided by an "S"
shaped curve, one side black, the other white, with small circles
of the opposite colors on each side. It is also known as yin/yang.
Yin, the dark side, representing female qualities, and yang, the
light side, representing the masculine. In our Western minds, we
tend to look at this symbol as representing two opposite energies,
but it is more than that. It is a balance of two energies as one,
each containing qualities of the other. A predominance of yin or
a predominance of yang throws everything off balance.
Discarding the warrior spirit in
the name of peace throws the human spirit out of balance as well.
The good and even profound qualities of the warrior spirit need
to be redirected from war for their true value to be understood
And this is what Chivalry-Now
is all about. We recognize the intrinsic value of well-directed
masculine ideals to the overall balance of human energies. They
can add tremendously to the peace movement by completing its scope
of reference. In fact, it transforms a potential opponent into a
Contending against the warrior spirit
is self-defeating. It produces contention, which is the opposite
Ignoring the warrior spirit limits
the potential of the peace movement, for it continues the imbalance
caused by separation.
Embracing the warrior spirit, and
channeling it in positive directions, restores the balance of life.
It completes the all-inclusive circle of our best intent.
The bible tells us there is a time
for everything. Despite our strong desire for peace and harmonious
relations, we only have to look at what's happening in the world
to know that there is a time and place for resistance, for self-defense,
for standing up strongly for what is right, for loudly saying no
to the commercialism that continually overwhelms us.
Think of the risks and confrontations
incurred by Gandhi, by Martin Luther King, and by Jesus. Each of
these men exhibited a wonderful balance of male/female qualities,
passive and aggressive, that contributed to the healing of the world.
I see the warrior spirit in each of these men, long recognized as
men of peace.
Women of the suffrage movement exhibited
this as well. Although history fails to record it, the tenacity
and dedication of women to create a better world was always present
in the very nature of women, just as it is today.
Men and women, masculine and feminine,
we are all partners in life, each bringing our individual qualities
to the table, our strengths, our skills, our understanding.
The intent of Chivalry-Now is
to resurrect the best of masculine qualities, and guide them into
harmony with the feminine. Not to eliminate them for past sins.
That would not only perpetuate the imbalance, it would deprive us
all of something beautiful and well-meaning.
The warrior spirit does not have
to be identified with war. No one hates war as much as the soldier
who has to live it. A proper soldier is not given to a sadistic
instinct to maim or kill. Their instincts come from loyalty, love
of neighbor and country, a desire to protect and safeguard. These
are positive, spiritual qualities that touch upon every aspect of
a person's life. Jesus recognized this when he said "No greater
love is this, that a man sacrifice his life for another."
There are exceptions, of course.
There are heartless killers who use violence to the most terrible
extremes. They represent the warrior spirit gone completely bad,
energies misdirected in a manner that kills the warrior spirit and
replaces it with insanity.
Back in 2005, I did some technical
writing for the government. During that time, I worked with people
at the Coast Guard's Research and Development Center at Avery Point.
I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of purpose of the people
there, both men and women. For the most part, they put their egos
behind them, exhibiting all the focus, discipline and cooperation
that Chivalry-Now could ever hope to produce.
The Coast Guard is a military institution.
It's purpose is to protect our country, not through military ventures
around the world, but by responding to threats of terrorism, natural
disaster, narcotics trade, and illegal immigration. They are the
only governmental agency that responded to Hurricane Katrina flawlessly,
and then refused to take credit for it. They just accomplished their
mission as they always do, rescuing people relentlessly until the
job was done.
Here I found the warrior tradition
at its finest: men and women who were highly trained, committed
to their purpose, and working cooperatively for the greater good.
Courtesy was everywhere, at all times. To me, they best exemplified
the warrior spirit, although they had nothing to do with killing
or with war.
What do we have when we discard
those energies, or rob them of their purpose? A safer world? Universal
peace? A new Eden? Or a soulless passivity that scarcely merits
the paradise it hopes to find?
The warrior spirit is a centered
consciousness that is open to the world. It is a spirit of honor
that does its best to avoid what is bad or hurtful. It intimately
knows the benefits of sacrifice, and does its best to avoid gossip.
I believe that the warrior spirit
is in us all, to a greater or lesser extent. It can be used to help
rid the world of sexism, racism, and the ethnocentricity that tries
to impose its will on other nations. It can eliminate the contentious
lack of civility that is now commonplace, while encouraging voices
to speak up for what is right.
that's what Chivalry-Now is all about.
We'd like to
hear from you.
If you care to be notified of Chivalry-Now updates, send
us a short e-mail
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also have a discussion group Forum
where you can connect with like-minded people and discuss chivalry
in all its guises.