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Knightly Glory

In 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 perspective.
    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.
Here 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 good.
When 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.


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