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
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
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
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.