on the news
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
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:
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.
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."
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.
a flower drawn to sunlight, we turn toward chivalry as a source
of authentic living. Honesty and virtue give life to our souls.
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.
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.
the value of our Companionship.