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The Importance of Humility

People often embrace chivalry because they want to apply to themselves the heroic image of championing all that is good, and fighting all that is evil. In other words, they want to be a hero in the romantic sense, and often see themselves as that already—at least in their imaginations.

What they don't realize is that real Knighthood does not just fall from the skies at their invitation. They are somewhat stunned to learn that the first enemy they have to face is often themselves. They may fail along the way because ego tends to block the path to true heroism, tainting every thought and deed with selfishness unbecoming of a Knight, who is charged to put the well-being of others ahead of himself.

For example: Your behavior might have to improve to actually reflect chivalric ideals. Certain prejudices have to go as a sign of maturity and refinement. (There's no such thing as chivalric bigotry.) Courtesy is important, but not well taught in today's society. You may have to learn how be courteous on your own, and that takes time and effort. (Acting polite now and then around strangers is not enough.) A certain amount of toleration is important. You live in a world where chivalry is almost unknown. You can't expect people to live up to your standards—which you need to show rather than teach to truly make a difference. If you wish to be a Knight, you must have the integrity to think for yourself, and not just repeat what you hear. Your values must be real, and not fashioned by today's out-of-control ideologies.

All this takes self-discipline. It starts where you are, and with the commitment you make. It means replacing your readymade ego with humility, which is nothing more than the quiet, some might say taming, acceptance of who you really are. Without humility, the ideals of chivalry are forever beyond your reach.

To help in that regard, the following "key elements of humility" were taken from the book Martial Virtues, by Charles Hackney, PHD:

  • Accurate assessment of one's ability and achievements (not low self-esteem, self-depreciation).
  • Ability to acknowledge one's mistakes, imperfections, gaps in knowledge, and limitations (often vis-à-vis a "higher power").
  • Openness to new ideas, contradictory information, and advice.
  • Keeping of one's abilities and accomplishments—one's place in the world—in perspective (e.g., seeing oneself as just one person in the larger scheme of things).
  • Relatively low self-focus, a "forgetting of self," while recognizing that one is but one part of the larger universe.
  • Appreciation of the value of all things, as well as the many different ways that people and things can contribute to our world.

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