The Knghtly Ideal
In medieval times, Arthurian literature portrayed the saintly Sir Galahad as the “ideal knight.” Gawain and Lancelot were also considered “ideal” despite (or perhaps because of?) their human failings. A few historical figures, like William Marshal, are also considered exemplars of chivalry.
While we can look back into the past to admire some inspirational warriors, that is not our purpose here. We live in a very different world that makes very different demands. We are not measured by unflinching loyalty to a monarch. Instead, we are entirely responsible for what we believe and how we live our lives. In that, our culture doesn’t really care who we are or what we do, as long as we obey the law and keep the economy running. And while this allows for a sense of dignity based on freedom, which is a good thing, it is also where our culture fails us. Or, perhaps better put, it is where we fail our ongoing culture. What most of us do with our incredible freedom is disappointing to say the least, and often tragic considering the human destiny that is possible.
Chivalry-Now’s focus is on moral relevance for today. Historical and fictional inspirations have their place, but our goal is to introduce a new form of Knighthood that is real and meaningful for the 21st century.
We start by refashioning what Knighthood means for today’s world. Rather than looking to the past for the “ideal knight” to emulate, we must reconstruct the “Knightly Ideal” for the purpose of healing ourselves and morally invigorating our culture in perpetuity.
Today’s Knight could be male or female, religious or not, of any race or ethnicity, rich or poor—just about anyone who seriously decides to live morally and authentically and directs his or her life accordingly. It is not a vocation or cult or fantasy club. It is the latest iteration of an adopted, time-honored code of behavior that reflects the autonomous merger of reason and conscience—also known as Nature’s Law. This is essential to Chivalry-Now in that it stimulates the proper use of freedom rather than imposes anything.
It promotes the following:
- character development; strong in resolve; self-disciplined; compassionate.
- concern for the greater good over myopic selfishness.
- self-controlled moderation rather than slavery to greed.
- humility instead of conceit.
- truth; honesty; dependability; faithfulness to values and commitments.
- heroically protecting those in need—be they family, friends, strangers, people you disagree with, even enemies when treated unfairly.
- actively resisting evil; speaking out for fairness and cooperation, even when put at risk.
- equality and toleration over bigotry and social prejudice.
- justice; applying reason to conscience as Nature’s Law dictates.
- faithfulness in love, loyalty in friendship.
- generosity, which comes in many forms.
- forgiveness, which tolerates imperfection while seeking improvement.
- honorable living; courtesy, which improves and facilitates all social interactions; personal refinement of manners to reflect the noble qualities of chivalric traditions.
While that may seem like a lot, it all boils down to caring for others and living rightly.
Now, try to imagine all this infused in a strong, morally heroic figure, a Knight in the truest sense of the word, living quietly and appropriately among us. If you can imagine all those qualities honed to perfection—you now have the image we are looking for.
If our culture were continually inspired by such an ideal, think of what people would be like, what incredible accomplishments we would promote!
There would be world peace. The challenges of disease and hunger would be met by united rather than disjointed and pathetically conflicted responses. The establishment of human equality would eliminate many of the social struggles we needlessly encounter today. No more terrorism. No sensational murders titillating unhealthy minds. Crime would be almost non-existent. There would be fairness in all our dealings because we want it enough to make it that way. No more exploitation by the powerful. The news media would be far more reliable. Even social media would adopt the new mores of honorable expectations. No more lies. No more cheating. No more deceptive, cutthroat policies in business. No more stoking irrational fears by the unscrupulous. We would learn the ways of love and mutual respect and lead humanity toward a far greater destiny than we are heading now.
Such a path would not only be transformational, but inexpensive. It’s not about costly programs, but personal behavior that we can all adopt and enjoy the benefits. Positive results would ripple throughout the world. Based on universal values, it would appeal to liberals, conservatives, and independents alike. That such accomplishments are rooted in our very best traditions and practices from the past, we will see how easily and naturally they extend toward the future.
Ideals, of course, represent what should be, not what is. We can’t all be Knights in the truest sense. Perhaps none of us can. But the good thing about having them as an ideal is inspiring us to be like them.
That means more than you might think. No matter how competent, Knights can’t change the on their own. Real progress necessitates the enthused cooperation of everyone. That means you and me, and everyone we know. It is up to us, imperfect as we are, to awakening the consciousness of the world.