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
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.
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.
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.