medieval times, the quest for glory was considered proper motivation
for a chivalrous life.
To our modern ears, this seems to contradict
the virtue of humility. We associate the word "glory"
with the extrovert, with celebrity and renown - hardly the virtues
of a knight.
There is another way to think of it, however,
more consistent with the goals of Chivalry-Now.
Glory can be viewed as fame or reputation.
Anyone can be famous in ways that most of us would prefer to avoid.
But to perform an act of goodness or bravery
or sacrifice that lives well beyond the act itself, to the beneficence
of others, is glorious. Its meaning and direction touch the eternal,
that which is beyond time and substance. It can be likened to performing
the will of God.
Am I inserting religious inference here?
Poetic symbolism? A shift from our usual adherence to reality?
No. My point is not religious, poetic or
abstract - although it can be taken as such if we stop here. Words
can be somewhat limiting, but if we step forward carefully, with
an open mind, the meaning opens up for us.
Chivalry-Now, like its medieval predecessor,
is a collection of ideals, purposely designed to be
outside our reach. They serve as guides, as inspiration. Plato described
them as existing only in "essence." Humans can express
ideals only imperfectly. As such, we metaphysically conceive them
as beyond reality, part of the eternal, even divine from a religious
The man of chivalry can live a life of simplicity
and good deeds that are barely recognized by others. Indeed, this
is his moral foundation, consistent with humility and lack of greed.
However, there exists in many men of knightly
constitution a desire to perform deeds that go beyond the ordinary,
achievements so fine, meaningful and challenging that chivalry itself
recognizes them as its own. Here we find the dragon-slayers, the
heroes of myth and legend, who just might have been real before
embellishment. Here we find accomplished knights who made chivalric
imprints on history, who changed the course of events toward the
greater good in grandiose fashion.
While we honor and encourage achievements
inherently more modest, we recognize that greater deeds are sometimes
needed to set the world right.
I'm speaking of deeds of glory,
not men of glory. Men are fallible and mortal and
given to weaknesses we all struggle with. But glorious deeds reach
out to something greater.
Here we find motivation that is larger than
life, worthy of significant struggle, sacrifice and possible failure.
This is no affront to humility. It is responding to the higher calling
that knighthood implies. There is no self-aggrandizement here. It
is hearing the call of more prodigious need and stepping forward
with personal commitment.
Glory is found in responding to the greater
challenges that confront us, the quests that others ignore or fail
to recognize. In myth and literature, it was the deed that saved
a kingdom. In the world we live in, it is the world itself that
needs to be saved. The human species. The environment we live in.
The enemy that surrounds us is deeply ingrained:
apathy, fanaticism, the blind and incessant drive for wealth
and power, the quirk of human choice that often kills, the willful
coupling of virtue and vice, instead of embracing virtue alone.
From the microcosm of lost, meaningless
lives, to international threats of terrorism, to the macrocosm of
global warming, we live in a world that threatens our very existence.
How do we respond? By elevating money as
our god, greed as the ubiquitous golden calf that answers all our
problems. Political extremists play tug-of-war to avoid the challenges
that really confronts us. Poverty kills millions every day while
we fixate on celebrity perversion and contemplate the stock market.
The world we live in needs fundamental change.
It needs heroes to challenge the problems that our leaders refuse
to face. It needs moral inspiration, and glorious deeds that steer
us into sanity.
we find what chivalric glory really means: the infusion
of the superlative that elevates humanity, destroys evil and rescues
future generations. Chivalric glory means the triumph of what is
a knight sets out for "glory" he partakes in a quest worthy
of his greatest efforts. His goal transcends the mundane with universal
implications. This is the call to glory that calls us all.
When we approach it with humility and a strong sense of
personal commitment, we join with great heroes of the past in the
highest form of chivalric tradition.