Back for Enlightenment
most of you know, Chivalry-Now represents the evolution of certain
values and ideals that marked the birth of western civilization.
Medieval chivalry provided a name for this revival,
but its origin is much older. It owns a richness, depth and vitality
derived from epochs before and after the age of chivalry, and continues
to evolve even to this day.
A significant portion was derived from
the 17th and 18th century period known as the Age of Enlightenment.
It was during this turning point of history that a radical change
was made in the way people think and how they confronted the world
around them. It produced what historians recognize as the modern
mind. That refers to us - at least those of us who liberate
our minds through the use of reason, which is what the idea of freedom
is all about.
If the Chivalry-Now vision seems
reminiscent to that of the early founders of the United States,
it is because most of the founders were enthusiastic proponents
of Enlightenment principles.
Inspired by this powerful movement, which had already resonated
through much of Europe, they used its enthusiasm for truth and freedom
to fashion a new form of government.
Unfortunately, with the passage of time,
much of the context of their elegant writing, including The
Declaration of Independence, has lost some of its deeper
The idea of freedom, for
example, or the pursuit of happiness, or equality,
were loaded terms that referenced not only governmental standards,
but the potential brilliance of a coming age. A vast, new potential
for understanding had been recognized and indelibly enshrined for
posterity. Like the fabled Camelot, where an idealized
kingdom reached its peak, only to be lost by those who were not
ready, now serves as an inspiration for some future time that will
be more favorable.
The same goes with the founders' vision
of a new society, based on reason and virtue. While their vision
gave us a viable structure for government, the sad truth is that
most people are too lost in the crazy labyrinth of their lives to
consider what is missing. Too many of them turn to partisan ideologies
to do their thinking for them. Others ignore it all, losing themselves
The truth is that the American War
of Independence was meant to produce a revolution in human
nature. That was its most revolutionary aspect. Official
documents prove this, along with other source material, such as
speeches and correspondences. And deep inside we know this to be
true. Unfortunately, we feel it more than understand it. Whereas
once, these revolutionary ideals drew inspiration, they now belie
a personal frustration that informs us that our lives are incomplete,
no matter how successful we are. Like the shadow of some formative
memory, it whispers discontent and calls for our return.
For those who thirst to understand the
transformative vision of the Enlightenment, and how we may apply
it, Chivalry-Now points the way by articulating its message.
It is up to you to respond. We believe that if enough people quench
this intellectual and moral thirst, it will contribute to the activation
of a latent Kairos that has struggled for fulfillment since the
Let us examine some of the words we are
familiar with for their deeper message:
Freedom. On the surface,
it means a lack of restraint, the ability and right to do as one
pleases. We call that negative freedom, because it
limits itself to a withdrawal of external prohibitions. Negative
freedom is certainly part of what the founders intended, but their
radical message had more to do with positive freedom.
Human beings were not meant for the amoral freedom of beasts in
the field, or in the jungle. We are not cows or giraffes or wild
predators. Our rational minds and intuitive conscience demand something
more. They demand the kind of freedom that is conducive to the enhancement
of human nature.
Such freedom incorporates, indeed requires,
the ability to reason, and reason well. Otherwise, we fail to include
the most singular aspect of what makes us human to begin with. Free
thought is the essence of positive freedom. Its goal is rational
self-development. People, responding to human nature, build
who they are. They encounter, appreciate and engage life, rather
than let it run over them. They resist coercion of the mind and
make good decisions that are decidedly their own.
Positive freedom is an on-going, second
birth that constantly takes place in the here and now. The newness
of this transformation, which is an on-going authentic response
to reality, produces a constant fulfillment of consciousness. In
Chivalry-Now, we refer to this character-building engagement
with life as the quest.
Positive freedom activates areté,
which is the combination of reason and virtue that make us specifically
human. It asks the question: if we fail to develop what makes
us human, which includes free thought and a priority of conscience,
how can we be free in the human sense of the word? We are enslaved
by a more primitive nature that is unworthy of our potential. The
value of freedom of speech, for instance, was not to propagate
lies or contrived ideologies or hedonism, but to encourage the expression
of quality thinking that would elevate us all. Positive freedom
sets the stage for human evolution.
Pursuit of Happiness. The
Enlightenment philosophers understood that the first aspect of Nature's
Law was personal survival. A close second was that human
nature moves toward acquiring pleasure and avoiding pain. Subjecting
these laws to reason, they concluded that virtue provided the only
path to sustained happiness (pleasure) and the reduction of pain.
A virtuous society must therefore see to the general welfare
of its citizens. It must enact civil laws for their protection,
respect human and civil rights, encourage freedom within the confines
of those laws, and provide a culture for human advancement.
Today we think of pleasure or happiness
as our commercialized world would have it. We have replaced the
rich contentment of a simple life with a world of flickering images
and distractions that subtlety disavow what is real and satisfying.
We have abandoned Nature's Law for a culture of greed, power and
fun. The result? A happiness so shallow that each artificial delight
only adds to the undercurrent of our discontent.
Equality. The founders knew
well the obvious fact that people were different from one another.
They were divided by skill, talent, opportunity, appearance, wealth,
family position, circumstances of birth, education, temperament,
and a millions other ways. No two people are exactly alike. How
exactly does the idea of equality fit in?
The banner of equality refers to the fact
that we are all human, and therefore deserving of human rights that
are equivalent, despite all our differences. We are all subject
to the vicissitudes of life that come our way. We need air to breathe,
water to drink, and food to eat. We have inner lives deserving of
respect. We all love. We overcome hardships. We can all improve
in some way or another. Each of us has the potential to embrace
positive freedom and expand our consciousness of living.
In a democracy, we share the equality of
the vote and being treated fairly under the law, to speak our minds,
to worship God the way we please, or deny that God exists. We are
all capable of helping one another, or harming them instead. And
we can kill.
Our dependency on one another makes us
equal as well. Our society, government and civilization function
well only when we, the people, make them work.
the Pursuit of Happiness and Equality
are ideals worth striving for that are rooted in optimistic fact.
They make sense. They lead us where we should go. Ignoring them
only holds us back.
is important that we understand these words and the vision they
represent - understand them to the point of being enthusiastically
inspired, because they express the best of who we are, and who we