Courage - An Act of Will
“What could be more ridiculous than these armchair heroes who confront only abstract dangers, and only in their imaginations?”
-- André Compte-Sponville
This is the danger we run into here, isn’t it? Limiting chivalry to inspirational exchanges on social media. Posting pictures of fierce looking warriors with captions somewhat inappropriate for our times. Drifting into a romanticized version of the past in order to escape a present that seems harsh and unfulfilling. Fantasizing that we are something we are not.
While this offers us still another form of escape (we have so many already), the purpose of chivalry is not about escape. Living a life of focused and activated conscience is the opposite of that.
The attraction we feel toward chivalric values appeals to conscience with a strong sense of fairness, hope and fidelity. Chivalry is a call to personal authenticity. It may be the only one we have
Unfortunately, the world we live in is not structured anymore to accommodate these goals and expectations. Prevailing values seem to disdain them. We cannot be greedy, as society encourages us to be, and oppose injustice at the same time. We cannot express heroic qualities by thinking only of ourselves.
Today’s Knighthood demands courage and determination. It means expressing our values when it is easier to just follow the crowd. It means being firm and courteous at the same time. Standing up to bigotry. Constantly fighting for the greater good. Helping others where help is needed.
This demands the courage and determination to act. Knighthood is meaningless without courage. What good are our high ideals, values and principles if we lack the courage to live them? Our battlefield is everyday life, where goodness is constantly devalued and travailed. Everywhere we go we confront our dragons, comfortably disguised and seemingly benign.
Courage is an act of will in the face of adversity. It is a choice of character that incurs risk and the possibility of loss or suffering, or even death.
People will resent you for questioning their values and speaking truth to lies. They will mock you for not playing their games. They will see you as a threat, because your ideals challenge their moral intransigence. With the cards stacked against you, chances are you will fail again and again. It takes courage and the determination to pick yourself up each time and move back into the fray.
Chivalry-Now is a demanding way of life, but it is a beautiful and noble way of life as well. And it is not for the faint of heart. That’s why we associate it with Knighthood.