“The real hero doesn’t conquer monsters and enemies; he conquers himself.”
--David A. Beardsley, The Journey Back to Where You Are
What does it mean to conquer ourselves? Does it mean that we are our own enemies? Do we exhibit attributes considered monstrous? Or is there something inside us that holds our truest selves captive? If that's the case, does conquering ourselves mean liberating who we really are?
We normally assume that we are in complete control of our lives – even as repetitive thoughts and set routines define us. If something feels wrong or missing, we look elsewhere to find it. That includes our concept of the hero which, by necessity, must come from within. Attempting to adopt it from elsewhere produces a superficial act that only adds to insecurity. Not only is it fake, it fails to produce the necessary insight on which real heroism depends.
This is why so many of our popular “heroes” fail us. No matter what their achievements or public image, their final unveiling reveals a deficit of heroic qualities that would have otherwise kept them strong and true.
Unfortunately, this deficit is supported by a culture that prefers to emphasize greed, celebrity and entertainment, rather than spiritual growth, service to others and self-satisfaction. Anyone can build their muscles, talk tough and strut around with self-importance. The hero is one who places the well-being of others before his or her own. The difference could not be more striking.
This is what happens when we allow an entertainment industry define what it means to be a hero. Without an inner core based on virtue and selflessness, the images we see are often shallow, dysfunctional, emotionally disconnected. They are presented as heroes because that is how script writers arranged it. Today's audience and culture expect nothing more.
Genuine guidance is still available from the past in the form of stories and myths. We see them crop up in unexpected places, like comic books or video games, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As a culture, however, we fail to incorporate the central message that heroes are born from a process of self-development (signified by the quest) derived from virtuous living. It has been lost in a miasma of meaningless distraction. It produces “mechanical minds” rather than free, autonomous individuals.
For this reason, Chivalry-Now offers a different approach. It understands that we can no longer trust authoritative systems anymore, be they secular, cultural, political or religious. It points us toward a more reliable source.
If we want to find our heroic selves (meaning our most authentic personhood, unburdened by the conflict of values that constantly vie for our attention), we have to look into ourselves. Human nature provides the answers, and has from the beginning. We were not created without an inner blueprint of who we are.
To find the answers all we need do is tap into the two traits that make us most human: reason and conscience. Conscience intuitively recognizes right from wrong. Reason decides how to express this moral consciousness in our everyday lives. When we do this, we are more complete. We acquire an authenticity that transcends rote, mechanical responses.
When we view life as a quest, life itself becomes the classroom through which we learn and grow into personal authenticity. We confront daily challenges not just to get past them, but to learn and grow through our experiences. All we have to do is open up to whatr life brings us, no matter how random or annoying. Conscience and reason, commonly referred to as our hearts and brains, naturally lead to the development of virtue. This is how the true hero is born.
Chivalry-Now honors this process. It honors exactly where each of us is on our personal quests — it honors where the quest leads, which is our drive for personal integrity.
Chivalry-Now does not seek followers. The follower mentality is exactly what we reject. All we hope to do is provide the tools to assist people as the transcend on their own personal journeys. These tools include the time-tested code of ethics known as the 12 Trusts. We don’t have to convince you of their value. Conscience itself recognizes them as true.
Chivalry-Now offers other tools as well. In our second book, The Deeper Quest, we offer a treasure trove of concepts that describe the deeper meanings of what we culturally intuit already. They open up new vistas of understanding that we might otherwise miss, opening our eyes to the profundity of our quests.
That being said, Chivalry-Now would be an worthless vessel if all it offered were moral codes and concepts. Chivalry-Now is about awakening the heroic parts of our nature that society tends to ignore. Its magic consists of words that speak the language of our souls directly to our conscience.
If we let it, and listen with open minds, our souls respond.