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A Better Way

The 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 and Chivalry-Now?
    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 way.
    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 Trust tells 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 Trust tells 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 profit.
   
This 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.

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