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To be a Knight

Those of us who aspire to be Knights like to imagine ourselves as strong and brave and sufficiently moral and honorable already. We gravitate toward images of iron-clad, medieval knights to form a kinship of fantasy in our minds, admiring their brash strength and nearly flawlessly heroic reputations. We then sit back while projecting ourselves into those images to change our self-perceptions, at least for a while. People we know might not see any difference.

If we truly aspire to be 21st century Knights, we must transform ourselves. We must train to be strong, courageous, and exhibit high moral standards. We must develop ourselves intellectually too. The times we live in demand sharpness of mind. Anything less depreciates what it means to be a Knight.

It stands to reason that we must explore and develop our strong points, but it is just as important to discover and admit our weaknesses too. The self-conceit of fantasy tends to ignore that, which sets us up for failure. The path to Knighthood is wrought with detours, dead-end streets, false directions, and deceits—of our own making! We need to recognize and deal with those weaknesses before real progress can be had.

Blindness toward oneself is a major one.  You can’t achieve the intellectual and moral autonomy that your goal requires if moribund ideologies dictate your thoughts and values. You probably think they don’t—but is that true? Have you adequately explored your views enough to be sure? It’s possible to be so indoctrinated that you can’t see it, which is the insidious trap of most ideologues.

Self-deception sometimes presents the hardest challenge.

You can’t become a Knight and hold onto bigotry at the same time. If you respect and help only those who look like you, you fall way short of the actual ideals. Even if you placate the prejudices of others to keep them as your friends, such lack of resolve falls way short of what you need.

If you harbor envy or jealousy, hate or irrational fears… if you embrace foolish conspiracy theories, or sell your integrity to ridiculous lies, how can you ever consider yourself to be a Knight without robbing that concept of all meaning? You actually become an enemy to Knighthood.

To be a real Knight is not the stuff of ego-fantasies. It either means something substantial, or nothing at all. It requires the kind of radical, personal change (“anagnorisis”) born from self-discipline and an enlightened moral perspective. It requires truth, and that means confronting your weaknesses, no matter how uncomfortable.

We might not eliminate all our emotional and psychological impediments in the process, but an honest assessment allows us to compensate for that in real life, so our strengths can flourish and be effective.

And if that goal remains unreachable, as it is for most of us, that’s okay. To live as an aspiring Knight is a worthy endeavor—one in which a sufficient number of us can greatly improve the world we live in.



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