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Are You Worthy?

Each of us approaches the call to chivalry carrying a past that might not be conducive with chivalry's ideals.
    
That was true for me, as I tried grafting together cultural slices from the past to find something meaningful.
    
It is true for others who come as curious Pilgrims, and suddenly find themselves draw to a lifelong Quest.
    
I can't speak for every man's situation—only for my own. Nevertheless, we all carry baggage from our earlier lives. Some of us may be plagued by feelings of guilt or unworthiness that painfully stop us in our tracks.

  • You might have had numerous failed relationships, or did not treat women properly, or cheated on a spouse.
  • You might have failed your parents, or never got along with siblings.
  • You might not have been the father that your children needed and deserved.
  • Perhaps you delved into the darker side of human nature. Crime. Drugs. Placing profit before people.
  • Perhaps confusion led to experimentation you now regret.
  • Like most of us, you may have acted like a jerk because you just didn't know better.

Just about any form of guilt that leads to self-reproach can inhibit your response to chivalry. You can feel so unworthy or trapped by the past, that it paralyzes you from taking even that first step forward.
     There's another way of looking at this, however—a very real perspective that doesn't gloss over your past or deny the validity of your guilt. In fact, it assures that you possess the kind of conscience that makes chivalry real, and not just a momentary fad.
     When thoughts of the past cause you to hesitate, it means that your sense of justice and fairness is alive and well. It means you are approaching Chivalry-Now with appropriate seriousness. This is not a barrier to moving forward. It is tangible proof that you are worthy to go on—your first real step!
     The past means little to Chivalry-Now. What matters is who you are at this moment in time, and from this day forward. Pangs of conscience mean that your soul is alive with a suitable perspective. This is where the integrity for change begins.
     The beauty of chivalry is that it points to high ideals while not expecting perfection. The characters from Arthurian literature illustrate this plainly. Each knight had his faults, while struggling to be his best.
     No one hears about chivalry and is suddenly transformed into the perfect man. That's not how it works. Chivalry reminds us of what is in our souls. It calls us to embrace male virtues — as best we can — in every day life.
     By nature and definition, ideals are goals that are in some ways unreachable. They are "idealized." Unrealistically perfect. They serve only as guideposts to better living. Chivalry calls us to these ideals knowing full well that we are all fallible.
     Do not confuse embracing an ideal and failing to achieve it perfectly as hypocrisy. It is a human being doing his best in an imperfect world—and that's all we can hope for. What counts is not our past failures or shortcomings, but the brave intent, the personal commitment, the energy we generate and whatever good that results, no matter how finite.
     When you think of it, what's the alternative? Trying nothing at all?
     Who says that you and I, all of us and any of us, cannot rise above who we were yesterday? Or that past sins define us forever? Such mistaken ideas support the cultural despondency upon which all our problems flourish.
     Only you know the motivation of your heart. Only you can judge that. And it's time you do.
     Let's say, in response to Chivalry-Now, you look inside the dark recesses of your heart and discover a spark of purity long ignored. What could possibly be wrong with nurturing that spark into a greater flame, breathing new energy into your life?
     I cannot speak for others. Every man faces his own challenges, his own potential. As the author of Chivalry-Now, my approach should not be viewed as typical.
    
But I'll tell you this, once I connected there was no turning back. No doubts. No self-reproach. In fact, I still find it difficult to look back while truth keeps staring me in the face. I never made a conscious choice to end one life and begin another. I found myself too busy responding to what is. I didn't realize it at the time, but a door had opened that allowed a truer version of myself to slip outside.
     Am I a better person because of it? WHOLEHEARTEDLY YES!
     Have I attained anything close to chivalrous perfection? WHOLEHEARTEDLY NO! That was never my expectation.
     Chivalry is not about feeling good about yourself. That's too passive and self-centered. It's about having the inspiration of an immediate moral foundation on which to live. It's about vision and determination, and claiming a life worth living.
     Are you worthy of that? Am I?
     Worth has nothing to do with it. It is better to skip that question entirely, and get on with living.
    
The words of our trusted Companion, Sir Steven Forgette, give us insight into chivalry that shows how the moral dynamics neatly sidestep our guilt and insecurities:

"May all true Knights not look at the world as it is, but as it should and can be. Of what good is a Knight, who does not try to make the world a better place in which to live."

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