12 Trusts, as a code of ethics, assumes certain obligations
to those who take it. Reciting it now and then is not enough. We
are all required to live according to the principles to which we
commit ourselves. We must bring that idealism into our daily lives
and show the world a better way to live. As stated before, elsewhere,
there are no part-time Knights.
We start in the way we act and treat other people
at home, in the workplace and everywhere we go. Honesty, courtesy
and concern for others should be markedly apparent to all who come
within our circle. This may require us to replace some of our past
behavior with something more positive and self-disciplined, but
that is the purpose of a moral code, is it not? They serve as inspirations
that we make real through our actions.
It does not end at our doorstep. Our mission
is far greater than that. We are to show the world we live in a
better way to live.
This is especially true in the political realm,
where the need is most apparent. The dysfunction in Congress has
crippled our national government for decades now, and we have only
ourselves to blame for letting that happen.
Political partisanship is nothing new to any
of us. Considering it a normal part of the system, we have become
desensitized and expect nothing better. Many of us probably follow
one party or the other, listening to their spokespeople rail against
the other side while agreeing with their positions. Some get more
involved and help spread the party line among their co-workers,
friends and neighbors. We might do this as naturally as we breathe
the air, reflecting biases that we were taught from birth.
When we do this, however, are we not also trampling
on the higher principles that we have vowed to promote?
First of all, political partisanship does not
have to be part of the natural order of things. Indeed, in the United
States, it was deeply frowned upon by our founders, who considered
politics as a noble vocation. They envisioned a nation of free people
electing representatives of exceptional quality - real statesmen
who considered not just regional concerns, ideological factions,
and their own personal gain, but the good of the nation as a whole.
They looked for the kind of personal disinterest needed to fairly
reflect upon the issues that confronted them. One of their chief
concerns was providing "an adhesive" that would join the
people together as a single nation, despite the abusive disarray
of warring factions. The reason that the United States Constitution
was drafted in the first place was to replace the Articles of Confederation,
which failed to bring national unity to the several states. The
founders were trying to build a nation based on civilized ideals.
The Federalist Papers preserve their concerns and
logic. The federal government, which so many people now complain
about, and do little to correct (because dissatisfaction is easier
to exploit), was the result of that effort.
The rise of contentious partisanship occurred
while many of the founders still lived. As they witnessed dishonorable
people taking office and forcing the nation to bend to the will
of factions, they bemoaned the failure of the honorable republic
that they originally envisioned. George Washington complained
that a political party could "set up a broomstick"
to run for office and unthinking people would support it in the
interest of a party. John Adams, in his usual blunt manner,
articulated questions that still confront us: "Where
is now, the progress of the human Mind?... When? Where? And How?
is the present Chaos to be arranged into Order?"
What does all this have to do with the 12 Trusts
For one thing, as men and women of truth and
honor, we must not promote the problem that is tearing our nation
apart. We who know better are called upon to stand up for what is
right, to "fix what is broken and renew a pervasive conscience
long considered dead." We are meant to be advocates
of light, not purveyors of irreconcilable resentment and discontent.
Partisanship is nothing more than a power-struggle
between particular parties that caters to certain interests and
factions - chief among them the careers and aspirations of politicians
themselves! In this struggle, it gains a life of its own that often
ignores moral principles. Claiming the title of "loyal opposition,"
each party automatically takes the opposite position of the other
for the sake of contention. Differences must constantly be maintained
to provoke emotions that generate popular support. Anger, prejudice,
irrational fears and even seemingly benign compassion, void of reason,
supplant the positive and constructive discourse that the delicate
balance of democracy needs in order to survive.
It is said that all is fair in politics. Is that
true? Is it? The falsity of political exaggerations, lies and divisive
rhetoric is nothing less than an affront to everything that Chivalry-Now
espouses. If we are to be true to our principles, we must reject
that out-of-hand. The correct response is to show the world a better
The 12 Trusts are quite explicit:
- The 4th
Trust, which many of us have pledged to keep, tells us to
speak the truth at all times. Political lies are out of the question.
- The 9th
us to abhor scandal and gossip. We are not to partake nor delight
in them. The ways of political partisanship has made a cottage
industry of spreading scandalous lies and gossip.
- The 12th
us to live our lives with courtesy and honor, two attributes that
partisanship constantly assaults, generating values that are the
very opposite of what Chivalry-Now stands against.
None of this
means that you can't have political opinions or favor one candidate
over another, or support certain issues. Far from it. As a person
of deep principle, your opinions and support are needed, and should
carry more clout. If you feel called to run for office, take it
as an opportunity to carry the 12 Trusts where it is most
needed. The point is, do it as your own person, not a mouthpiece
for those who would exploit your good intentions for their own selfish
is what it means to be a Knight or Companion of Chivalry-Now:
honorable, fair-minded, courteous and a respecter of truth. Even
if we do not get personally involved in politics, we are still bound
by commitment to advocate for truth at all times, and not spread
or encourage false claims or rumors just to fit in.