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The Meaning of Commitment

While I was away on vacation, I had time to do a lot of serious thinking about the future of Chivalry-Now.
    For some reason, I kept returning to the idea of personal commitment, and what that means. Chivalry-Now will forever be judged by the quality of its advocates - that means you and me and all the members of our Companionship. The movement has integrity only so long as we do. When we make a commitment, we must keep true to it, or everything falls apart. In the eyes of the world, all the good that we accomplish would easily be spoiled by hypocrisy.
    It is important that our movement retains a high stature of integrity. We must always present to the world a way of life that people of all persuasions can relate with, something unattached to political ideologies, ethnic or regional biases, or religious dogma. We base our cause on truth, reason and conscience - because only a brave response to truth, reason and conscience can save the world from the problems we face today.
    We therefore cannot assume the posture of being part-time Knights. If we are seriously committed to chivalry, we must exemplify it in everything we do and say. At this stage of the game, this is what the quest is all about. Not perfection. Not guilt ridden drama to compensate for past sins, but a simple and honest striving to live by the code that we have chosen.
    I know first hand that this is difficult in today's world. The culture we live in teaches us quite the opposite. We are taught to admire people who are uncouth, politically divisive, and use foul language to show how little they value civility. We see popular celebrities and are tempted to imitate them - indeed, as children of a culture that has lost its way we are pushed to imitate them. The impulse is almost automatic. In order to become real agents of positive change, we must first liberate ourselves from the shackles that would prevent us.
    Knighthood is not just the adoption of a different perspective. It is an actual change of consciousness. We become new people through our solemn commitment. If we do not see the world differently than before, it we do not see ourselves differently, the title is nothing more than an empty trophy, spiritually bereft. We must give ourselves to a Knighthood of value, or it is all no more than a game.
    Because the quest is a learning process that follows no curriculum, it requires that we check our own progress now and then, and evaluate who we really are. If we find that we have strayed from the path, we can then correct ourselves, and learn in the process.
    For example, in our desire to fight for good causes, we must not fall into the trap of contributing to unending contention that leads nowhere. Political ideologies and their media representatives are famous for that. They seek to enflame popular contention in order to give themselves identity. That is why we constantly see political opinions that are automatically based on whatever is the opposite of their opponent's stance. Truth has no place in that dynamic, which is why political ideologies often seem illogical and self-defeating. They have to arouse enough anger in their supporters that the inconsistencies are overlooked. The result is a morally blinding trench warfare of words that vilify people who hold different opinions. We must never adopt that model or mode of argument. Our mission, remember, is to "fix what is broken and renew a persuasive conscience long considered dead." We have to take that seriously.
    If we are true Knights, we must engage the battle for conscience differently, more effectively and without stain. We do that by stepping out of the circle that enslaves so many people to the shallow thinking of small, ineffective ideas. We must reject prefabricated patterns that hinder our growth and color everything we see. We must never fall victim to political ideologies, or market forces, or the untruth of the mob. Only by stepping away can we think clearly for ourselves. That is one of the first requirements of freedom that we need to recognize.
    When we step outside that herd mentality, we become capable of finding virtue in relationship to truth. Conscience and reason become our guide. When that happens, Knighthood gains new meaning - a new life that is nourished by new consciousness.
    To engage such consciousness only on occasion would blaspheme our commitment. To be a Knight is a full-time commitment, not something to be dabbled in now and then when the mood hits.
    How can a Knight who professes to believe in courtesy and honor, then act with discourtesy and disrespect? Is he or she still a Knight? Is foul language okay among friends or on the Internet? Can we resort to name-calling without betraying something of chivalry's intent?
    The world has desperate need for Knights of the highest caliber - not warriors of show or fun, part-time convenience or ego. We are called upon to be such Knights, and that requires a full-time commitment, including some soul-searching now and then to keep it strong and true.
    The anonymity of the Internet makes it easy to adopt different personalities at will. We can be a Knight on one forum, an ideologue on another, auncompromising critic somewhere else. Our words and language can be less than knightly, and who would know? But is it real? Knighthood is nothing if not real. What of our commitment to character, as the 2nd Trust makes plain?
    Chivalry asks a lot from us. We are rewarded with much as well, not the least being an authenticity of life that might otherwise be missed.
    It is true that we are victims of a broken culture that often stands against us and hinders our quest. That is a legitimate excuse for the hardships we bear in sustaining our dedication. Once we realize that, however, the excuse is no longer free passs, but an indictment for not doing better.
    No doubt we are all guilty of slipping back now and then. Chivalry does not expect perfection. It does call us to regain the moral path whenever we slip away, and do our best not to slip again. That requires some soul-searching now and then, and occasional moments of recommitment.
   
Of course, not everyone is capable of being a Knight. In medieval times, it was thought to be only one in a thousand. Those less-inclined might be inspired by knightly ideals, and that is certainly a goal worth fighting for as part of our overall mission. Before that can happen, however, true models of Knighthood must be active in the world for others to see and learn from. These are the people we seek to embrace in our fellowship.
   
Because it is impossible to judge one's commitment over the Internet, the strict evaluation and course corrections must come from participants themselves.
   
The choice is ours.

 

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