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The life of Benjamin Franklin serves as a prime example of Age of Enlightenment ideals. His was very much a self-made man, whose interests included publishing, science, religion, politics, and just about anything that came his way.
    One of greatest attributes which contributed immensely to his success was his personality. People liked him, and listened to his calmly given sage advice. While the efforts of others failed, his diplomatic efforts in France brought that country into the Revolutionary War as a United States ally.
    Part of the mission of Chivalry-Now is advocating for chivalric ideals. Effective communication is part of that. In this regard, we can learn much from someone like Benjamin Franklin.
    When a friend told Franklin early in life that he lacked humility, Franklin did some honest soul-searching and agreed with that assessment. In an attempt to remedy the situation, he made a resolution to no longer make statements that sounded too dogmatic, or that openly contradicted the sentiments of others.
    With this change in speech, he found that his ideas were more readily received by those he spoke with, and more capable of swaying opinion. He made friends and allies rather than enemies, and became an excellent proponent of national interests because of it. He was often sought to mediate conflicts and was deemed very successful in that role.
    He would share his ideas with such introductions as: "I think," "I imagine," or "Perhaps," and this took the edge off of his comments. A bold, declarative statement, in contrast, might have seemed strongly assertive, but might be taken as an attack by those of different views, an insult, or an invitation to compete. He preferred using his wisdom to disarm his opponents.
    In medieval romances, King Arthur was often portrayed as a soft-spoken leader who respectfully anticipated the value of everyone. He was famous for transforming enemies into allies, and so were those Round Table Knights who lived up to his expectations. He was not only forgiving, he made others feel special and appreciated. He knew that honor came not from noisy arrogance, but from accomplishment.
    His nephew, Sir Gawain, was well-known for his diplomatic skills and ability to charm people. In fact, all of the Round Table Knights were expected to be humble and courteous to others. This was a compelling part of their power to instigate positive change.
    Today we live in a commercially competitive world that has been aggressively divided by political extremes. In contrast to those vociferous agendas, most people are moderate in their positions and tolerant in their beliefs. As hard as extremists try to dominate politics, they actually represent a small minority of fanatics. People who are completely "liberal" or completely "conservative" usually stand as belligerent anomalies filled with the kind of anger that repels most people. That they sometimes gain power, and then claim a ill-conceived mandate for change (especially when they win by a slim number), usually results in disaster. Ultimately, they do not respect the will of the people. Abraham Lincoln coined the term "rule or ruin," and that well describes the strategy of political extremists. They have no qualms about embracing dubious means to achieve their goals, no matter how destructive or dishonest.
    The most frightening aspect about the constant drone of extremism is how it manages to convince the general public that there are only two choices to choose from. Chivalry-Now must always stand against this.
    As proponents of chivalry, sometimes our conjectures might seem to lean toward one extreme or the other — such as the conservative view of personal responsibility or the liberal view of compassion. In fact they do not lean in either direction at all. We ignore the contentious mindsets of both extremes and go straight to where truth leads us.
    The shackles of extremist loyalties are contrary to the spirit of the Quest. It is only natural for our opinions to change as we live and learn. No one should be surprised that we do not agree on everything, even among ourselves. This proves that freedom and self-development are more than just words to us.
    We need to remember all this when we communicate with others, especially while advocating for Chivalry-Now. Our approach is different because our goals are different, built not on the misdirection that society continually presses on us, but on moral directives that exists within us all.


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