Communicating as a Knight
It’s important for today’s Knight to master the art of communication. (Remember that old maxim, that the pen is mightier than the sword?) This includes listening skills, self-control, civility, consistency, and a comfortable knowledge about the topic under discussion.
Sometimes debates get heated. When that happens, consider the advice of P.M Forni, from his book The Civility Solution:
“The next time you are engaged in a confrontation, be aware of the dynamics at work. Stop and think hard about the ritual in which you are participating. Ask yourself: ‘What am I actually doing?’ ‘Is my insecurity pushing me to prevail at all costs?’ ‘Which is more important, that I prevail or that the issue be resolved in the best way possible?’ ‘Am I open to the possibility that I might be wrong?’ ‘Am I even listening to the other person?’ ‘Is he or she offering good solutions?’ This is the smart way of handling conflict—you don’t have to prevail to be a winner.”
Remember: If you start making ad hominem attacks, or respond to insults or vulgarity in kind, act disrespectfully or refuse to listen… you lose by default on two separate levels. You will not make your case well-received and you are not acting like a Knight.
Being a Knight means something special. It represents a refinement in effective behavior. When it’s time to speak out, do so civilly and effectively. Don’t crumble because your feelings are hurt. Don’t throw away your honor because someone gets under your skin. And never fight for bad causes, or continue if your efforts only makes things worse. Be fair to your adversary. When you’re wrong, admit it rather than hiding behind false bravado. Let your honorable behavior encourage others to follow your lead, especially your opponents. If you can do that, you win even when you lose.
Conventional wisdom tells us something very different. Win at all costs. Lie, cheat and steal if necessary. Out-yell your opponents. Debase them. Only agree with those who agree with you. Everyone else is either ignorant or evil. Make unholy alliances to increase your numbers, even when they contend with your principles.
While all this makes sense on one level (it fits our indoctrination, especially when it comes to politics), look at where it leads. When you sacrifice honorable behavior for the sake of power, you cannot reap honorable results. This may produce the occasional short-term win—but consider what is lost. The direst need for the kind of advocacy made capable by refined, well-intentioned Knights is to correct the seriously endemic problems we suffer from today. That starts with communication.
Today’s Knighthood, if it is to be real, must represent a new and principled way of doing things, fueled by the warrior spirit. It must be special. It must fiercely burn in the heart, even when gentle or understated. It must be fortified by truth rather than expediency. Indeed, it is this dedication to truth, directed by reason and conscience, that elevates Knighthood above the mundane.
If you cannot do this, if you prefer contention without knightly prowess, courtesy and intent, you may be a fighter, but you are not a Knight.
If, however, you long to be a Knight, if you sincerely feel it s calling, you must follow the path to self-discipline from which you must learn. We refer to this as the quest, the hero's journey from which true Knights are forged.
Take it. Do not hesitate. The world has dire need of you. The fulfillment of the path is its own reward.