The Secret of Today's Knighthood
You want to be a Knight. You’ve studied the literature and adopted the 12 Trusts. Perhaps you’ve received some sort of accolade as a rite of passage.
But something's wrong. You don’t feel like a Knight. You’re not convinced you really are one. No one seems to recognize or honor it. The world you live in is filled with technology experts, financial planners, politicians, clerks, factory workers, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, plumbers, teachers, etc.
...but no Knights.
With whom can you identify? Historical or fictional characters from the Middle Ages? Some religious order or civic group? Re-enactors? Or just your imagination?
The popular image of a Knight dressed in armor and wielding a sword no longer exists as a reality. That ancient profession is now extinct, and therein lies the problem. You cannot really be a Knight unless you perceive yourself as one—and even then, the world will not acknowledge you as such.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Your expectations have to change. More is required than what the world sees as an outdated title. If you want to be a Knight, like most things worthy of effort, you have to do it yourself.
That isn’t easy. The old time aristocracy associated with Knighthood has been replaced by democracy. And that’s a good thing. Noble castles have been replaced by skyscrapers, denoting a shift away from chivalry and toward business acumen. We develop ourselves less, and amuse ourselves more. The mandate of upholding moral standards has dramatically declined as the appeal of the anti-hero gives us a free pass. Convenient technologies reduce hardships at the cost of self-discipline. We would rather “entertain ourselves to death” rather than fight for a good cause. Everyday heroes are no longer needed. We have professional soldiers and police to keep us safe. Ego-statements, selfies and bank accounts now define us, but without substance, leaving us empty.
It almost feels like the world has conspired against any knightly ambitions. In a way, it has. All the more reason to reclaim them. We know that the world, while hindering our progress, has desperate need for the heroic qualities that Knighthood fosters. I don’t need to convince you of that. You feel it in your bones, or would not be reading this. The world mourns the loss of moral advancement. “Greed has poisoned men’s souls,” and only a cultural remedy will do. The urge of conscience that we feel calls out for the values of Knighthood.
Still interested in finding a way to perceive yourself as a Knight?
It depends on what you are willing to do to become one. You start by changing your life accordingly. If you choose action over complacency, your change of perception will at least be based on something real.
What are you willing to do to be a Knight? I’ve seen the accolade given, and nothing changed at all. This was followed by an inevitable disenchantment with Knighthood. People expect that the title itself will change them—make them stronger, more significant in the eyes of others, etc. But it does not. It is your response to the title, or more properly, your commitment, that makes you a Knight. Dedication decides everything. If you find yourself slipping, try harder. True Knighthood is not for the asking. It takes work. That’s what makes it worth while.
Talk less, and listen more. Be honest, but not hurtful. Be courteous, but never deceitful. Respect truth by always learning more. Be generous. Help those who are in need. Support good causes so that the world gains by your existence. Treat others fairly. Always speak out against injustice.
Consider studying a martial art. The confidence, self-discipline and physical skills make a marked difference. Take care of your health. Refuse to take illegal drugs. Refuse alcohol and tobacco as well if you really want to stand out.
Good hygiene helps project a knightly image. Maintaining emotional stability, especially during times of stress, is a sign of strength. Learn to forgive. Do not hesitate to seek forgiveness as well. It will liberate your conscience for positive action. Resist conventional wisdom by loving yourself less, and others more. Appreciate the mystery of life. Discover the strength that comes from humility. Accept failure by learning from it, and try again. Put fun aside and discover joy. Fulfill all your responsibilities without regret or hesitation.
Believe in humanity, despite all its shortcomings. Contribute your own efforts toward virtue. Follow no one who is without personal honor—better yet, follow no one at all. Lead by example and through inspiration. Become today’s hero everyday, instead of waiting for someone else.
With all this in mind, do you still want to be a Knight? If yes, then tell yourself “this is what Knights do”—and do it.