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Scandals on the news

In the last few years we have witnessed a number of political scandals on the national stage involving sex. These scandals included politicians involved with prostitution, restroom solicitations, adultery with subordinates, hush money, lying to the public (even under oath), and the latest addition, sexual exchanges over the Internet.
    One might think that an intelligent person who has risen to a high position in politics might be extremely cautious about engaging in anything that might be considered scandalous. Chances are they would eventually be caught and subject to incredible humiliation. In some cases, they are shamed out of public life completely, and have to live with that shame for the rest of their lives. And yet they do it anyway, harming not only themselves but those whom they love. My heart goes out to the loyal spouses who, despite their innocence, end up being dragged through the clutches of the predatory media.
    Perhaps these fallen leaders do it for the thrill of power, or the adrenalin rush that comes from risky behavior. Perhaps they feel that they are privileged and can get away with anything. Perhaps they entered into politics just to take advantage of such opportunities.
    But there is something else to consider - something from which we can all learn.
    Human beings are often more complicated than we seem. Our conscious minds, which usually reflect our most public personas, have to deal with subconscious urges and values that are often contradictory. Jung suggested that shadow personalities live in our subconscious minds that are quite dissimilar to how we want others to see us.
    To accommodate these shadows, we tend to express them at times that we deem are safe. The rest of the time, our public persona treats them as if they do not exist. It should come as no surprise, for example, when we frequently see politicians and preachers condemning certain sexual behavior that they secretly engage in at the same time - without a twinge of conscience. They seem to excuse their hypocrisy as if they were not responsible for what their hidden lives were doing.
    We cope with our shadow personalities by considering them as separate from who we really are - not really part of us. When confronted by aberrant behavior, we respond with this sense of denial, which is probably instinctive, as a first defense. It is difficult to admit or even recognize the hypocrisy that we have sustained for many years, which is why lying comes so easily. Denial has long been part of our existential well-being.
    The honesty and integrity of Chivalry-Now requires that we face this problem in our own lives. Hypocrisy, and the subconscious guilt that accompanies it, forms a barrier to the acquisition of virtue that we seek. Most, if not all of us, have such barriers that we prefer not to recognize. Resolving them is not easy.
    First we need to confront our shadow or dark side for what it is, knowing full well that it does not represent the entire person. Since it is still part of us, however, we cannot just remove it from our being. What we can do is transform and integrate it positively into our lives. (For more on how to do this, see: The Shadow Side of Male Virtue.
    For now, let us focus on recognizing the fact that having a shadowy persona is part of the human condition that we are called to challenge. This is part of the quest experience, the process of life through which we learn and grow.
Psychologically, we cannot serve two masters. Truth and falsehood cannot and should not be reconciled into peaceful coexistence. From the perspective of chivalry, we cannot be part-time knights, throwing our dark side into a box when people are looking. When it comes to hypocrisy, only the worst part of one's life is remembered, ruining what is good. As Shakespeare wrote, "The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones."
The authenticity such integration brings us will not happen overnight. The quest must be viewed as an ongoing process. What is important at the start is to see who we really are, and the role that moral contradictions play in our daily lives. Stripping the illusions of ego, we discover that humility is not just a moral goal, but a state of grace and reconciliation.
Like a flower drawn to sunlight, we turn toward chivalry as a source of authentic living. Honesty and virtue give life to our souls.
But when darkness comes, when no one sees what we are doing, we face what is perhaps our greatest challenge. Slaying dragons for the public good is a popular image of knighthood. Slaying personal dragons, those which haunt us in the silence of our minds, is what separates real knighthood from just occasionally playing the role. The person we have to prove ourselves to is ourselves - and that means being constructively critical of what we find, intent on improvement. There are no halfway measures.
By each of us bringing this kind of personal integrity to the table, we will build Chivalry-Now into a movement that the world we live in desperately needs.
Hence the value of our Companionship.


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