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Is Chivalry Compatible with Freedom?

The inquirer asked:

Where does freedom fit into chivalry?

Do you see yourself bound to a code...noting that you WERE at least free to choose such a life.

The questions touched upon a subject near and dear to my heart, and worth contemplating for us all. The following was my response to his inquiry.
    First of all, only a free individual can offer free commitment. If the vows of chivalry, as exemplified by the 12 Trusts, are not embraced freely, they are no better than any other external control.
    Second, even though the 12 Trusts reflect longstanding chivalric values, they are more than just a code or list of rules. They are words that connect to something already deep inside us. They ignite our moral core, and complete who we are. This completion, I believe, is what makes true freedom possible. How can incomplete people really be free? We refer to this as authenticity.
    When you read the 12 Trusts, or some other chivalric code, don't the words resonate inside you as if they are yours already? When I first encountered chivalry, many years ago, it was like coming home. The words belonged to me as soon as I heard them, as if they were my own. Chivalry, I think, is not so much a code as it is a reflection of our better selves, our innate moral nature, or what Enlightenment thinks referred to as Nature's Law. I may have been "free" beforehand, free like a rudderless boat, but I was not complete. My moral center was not awake to make me free. I had neither the confidence nor the inspiration.
    Chivalry gave me both. I am confident in my beliefs for two reasons: because they make real sense and because they satisfying my soul at the same time.
    If you encounter and embrace chivalry in the right fashion, it is not something you submit or bow down to. It is something you awaken and express. The answers are not handed to us in a platter. We have to find them for ourselves, which is also an important part of freedom.
    There is "negative freedom," which means that a purposely limited government does not unduly restrain people. There is "positive freedom," which means personal freedom that is activated for personal growth and responsible living. Both sound good, and are not incompatible with one another. When negative freedom is the only one stressed, however, which is often the case, it leaves people open to other, nongovernmental influences. For example, consumerism has the impetus and wherewithal to make slaves of us all, if we let it. If, however, we look first to ourselves, and be true to ourselves, and find real meaning inside ourselves, then true freedom can be found. Nothing is more alive and satisfying then that.
    So, in a way, you decide whether or not chivalry liberates or confines. When I recite the 12 Trusts, I commit myself to beliefs that already reflect my moral core, not someone else's rules. This allows for autonomy I would otherwise not have, and autonomy is a strong component of freedom.


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