Meaning of Commitment
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.
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.
it is impossible to judge one's commitment over the Internet, the
strict evaluation and course corrections must come from participants
choice is ours.