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The Knighthood of Chivalry-Now

(The following was written during the early days of Chivalry-Now, when our focus was to provide men and boys with a code of ethics to serve as a counterpart to feminism. As women showed interest in getting involved, our focus changed to include them as well. This article has been modified to reflect today's approach to becoming a Knight. We originally provided a program called the Path to Knighthood, which was unsuccessful. We now recognize that anyone who is committed to the 12 Trusts is a Knight already, male or female.)

 

The image of a knight is very strong in Western culture.

We see him as a medieval warrior who is disciplined by ideals, fearless, confident, a civilizing presence emerging from darkness, glorified by romantic tales. He is adorned by various types of armor, wielding sword and shield, lance or cudgel. He rides to adventure on a trusted warhorse to challenge evil where he finds it, liberate the oppressed, protect those in need, and uphold the rights of women.

The knight is more than the stuff of legend, myth and romance. Even now, his presence in history, imperfect though it was, continues to provide a moral inspiration for Western males. His image stirs men's hearts even as the world contradicts all he stands for.

The inspiration we feel comes not from any image, but from within ourselves. It tells us that if we really want true nobility in our lives, we first need to claim it on our own.

Knighthood speaks of transformation, the kind that comes only from commitment to what is just and good. Chivalry reflects the highest aspirations of what it means to be a man. We are less for the want of it, despite the "good life" we enjoy, that ebbs and flows without moral direction.

The knight's image tells us that our ultimate destiny, if we choose to grasp it, is to advocate for the values that create a better world for all — not just for some. It is knowing that any lesser vision, ends upcontributing to strife.

The knight's strength comes from the moral convictions of his principles. In living them, he embodies the very ideals that inspire him, and defines manhood accordingly.

In a very real sense, the image of a knight, his courtesy and fairness, his admirable strength adorned with purpose, his dedication and dependability, all reflect the highest potential of the male gender. Here we find the essence of man, despite his fallibility. Indeed, it is this contest between his ideals and fallibility, always at leaning toward the former, that shapes him.

How does this image translate for today's world? What can we glean from the legacy of knighthood for our everyday lives? More succinctly, from our perspective, what does it mean to be a Knight of Chivalry-Now?

First and foremost, the Knight must be a proponent of today's chivalry. His personal commitment must be total and inviolate — not just another grasp of ego, a façade without depth or substance. It is a matter of soul, of personal authenticity.

A true Knight of Chivalry-Now earns his knighthood every day. He cannot claim it as a fantasy, or from desire alone, or a single good deed. It would be meaningless otherwise. Knighthood is a second birth. It involves the pangs of labor and careful nurturing, physically, intellectually, spiritually. It can be likened to the making of a good sword, hammered into shape by life itself, fired by adversity, tempered by self-control. It encompasses growth and maturity of spirit, a willingness to learn by confronting truth with bold commitment.

Not a passing fad or honorarium. No halfway measures, doing only what is comfortable or convenient. One cannot be half a knight, or indulge in it part-time. It must be real, or not at all.

The code of Chicalry-Now consists of principles called the 12 Trusts, each presented as a vow of personal commitment.

Knighthood subsists on nobility of the heart, the kind of honor that transcends both circumstances of birth and the idiocy of pride. We bow to no one, but submit ourselves to Truth and the Mystery that sustains it.

In short, we accept the responsibility of our own lives and take it to the highest level in thought, word and deed.

Knighthood sometimes brings with it more scourge than bliss. It confronts the vicissitudes of life and tries to rectify tragedy. It lives. It strives. It carries the blessing and burden of self-knowledge. It weeps for the innocent and pities the guilty, who once were innocent as well.

It longs for a better world enough to work for it, and fight when necessary. It carries an inner vision of the sublime, and never sacrifices hope.

Knighthood is an ideal, but it stops far short of connoting perfection. Perfection can only be striven for, not attained. It is that effort, that struggle, from which true nobility is born.

Chivalry-Now has reinstituted knighthood under the banner of its 12 Trusts and the goal of liberation that the quest provides:

  • The knight is first a man in the fullest sense of the word. An open-minded thinker, a searcher for truth, which is his never-ending quest.
  • He has taken vows to uphold the principles he believes in, a particular code of ethics, exemplified by the 12 Trusts. These principles must be reflected in his life and in the way he relates with others.
  • He holds the vision of a better world to which he contributes daily. He is a citizen of that world, and lives as such.
  • He is one of the first fruits of the Chivalry-Now movement, an advocate for our principles, who leads others not through dictate but through example. He is an official member of a Round Table that circles the earth.

While Chivalry-Now is considered a Code of Male Ethics, our Companionship is open not only to men but to women as well, women who choose to help our cause and exemplify our ideals from their perspectives.

Our aim is to produce a sufficient number of Knights to represent Chivalry-Now and propagate its principles back into the culture, thereby replacing what was lost.

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