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Armed Courtesy?

I recently received an interesting survey response.
    For the question of "How would you define Chivalry?" the 59 year old fellow, a published author, responded with two words: "Armed courtesy."
    This amused me, especially in light of his more robust answers of the other questions. I pictured Rambo, armed to the teeth, opening the door for some damsel.
    I can't be certain of what the respondent meant by "armed courtesy," but it resurrected thoughts I had when I first looked into chivalry, like a starving man filling his plate at a feast. The weapons and armor of the medieval knight carried a significance beyond their utility as implements of combat. They represented the warrior spirit.
    Manly strength is often associated with the ravages of war, or with bullying or abuse. Unfortunately, there is good reason for that. When manhood loses its purpose, it sometimes strays from the path of decency. The result is tragic for everyone concerned. This is why it is vitally important for a culture to incorporate manhood as a true asset to society.
    But the symbols of sword, shield and armor still elicit a deep respect from our collective psyches. Although the knight was considered first and foremost a warrior, he was expected to be, by fact of his title and station, a civilized warrior. A man of courtesy and honor, who upheld justice and contributed to the well-being of society. His arms and weapons came to symbolized that.
But armed courtesy?
It doesn't mean you have to have a six-shooter at your side, or a ninja sword on your back to be chivalrous. The armor and weapons were symbols representing champions of civilized behavior, not from a sense of weakness but from self-disciplined strength, and a sense of doing what is right. Heroic civility might describe it better.
Here we find a place for men, filled with purpose and meaning. A model for strength tempered by humility. We find good reasons for self-development and respect for law. We find a connection to justice and defending those in need. We find viable descriptions of manly character.
Because of this, the image of the medieval knight still holds value for us today. As different as our world is from his, we see in him some of what we yearn to become. A man of strength and virtue. Something we definitely need to propagate.


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