Trusts, Extended Version
12 Trusts are not just words listing a chivalrous code of behavior.
They are deeper than that. They are contemplations that serious
Companions need to fully understand.
The following will help you consider
their deeper meaning.
The 1st Trust
will develop my life for the greater good."
starts with the potential of who we are, and our purpose in life.
As reasoning creatures, we naturally want our lives to have purpose
and meaning. We are subtly discontent without them, and sometimes
deeply frustrated, without really knowing why, The reason is,
of course, that as individuals we feel incomplete.
Trust recognizes exactly where we are, and helps us to see
it as a path toward personal fulfillment. What brings the personal
fulfillment that we are seeking? Having significance in one's
life. Career success, financial security and celebrity are often
seen as the means to attain such significance, but somehow miss
the mark of what is meaningful to our souls.
We are part
of the world we live in - which has far more permanence than we
do. The significance we are looking for must therefore benefit
the world we live in, and not just our finite selves. This means
somehow contributing to what we call the greater good. Before
we can do that, however, we must develop our personal potential
toward that aim. This is where we start on a journey of personal
completion - what we call the quest - which every day offers adventures
and learning experiences - if we recognize them as such. When
we view life as a quest, we perceive things differently, not just
as annoyances or mindless routine, but as significant opportunities
to learn and grow and strengthen our abilities. In this way, even
as we continue growing, we contribute to the greater good.
Begin by recognizing
that there is a greater good than our normal, petty concerns and
distractions. There is a greater truth than the powers that be
even recognize. Once you see that, decide how you might contribute
to it throughout your life in the way you live.
Trusts can provide you with a time-tested guide to get you
on your way.
The 2nd Trust:
will place character above riches, and concern for others above
Here we decide
what is most meaningful in our personal lives, and how it shapes
the kind of person we will be.
If we do not
make the decision of who we are our first true act of freedom,
freedom is lost before it ever begins. We will be shaped either
by happenstance or by someone else's formula. A better approach
we encourage is to respond to the miracle of life with a deep
resonance for the authenticity of who we really are.
A strong desire
for money or fame can divert us from that process. The world is
filled with distractions that would enslave us to what is meaningless
and shallow. Life challenges us to resist by finding and developing
who we are at our most basic level. When we see people who succeed
in that, it reflects itself in what we call their character.
does it mean to have character? It means being a person
who reflects the nobility of human nature; who understands that
the ability to reason brings with it a mandate for truth; who
embraces conscience as the most direct source of moral decisions;
who views strength as the responsibility to protect others; who
values equality and justice, and treats everyone with the courtesy
that they deserve. In other words, being a whole and complete
Having a noble
character, which expresses itself through concern for others,
is the height of personal achievement. We achieve this by empowering
ourselves to be the architects of who we are, prioritizing commitments
according to their real importance.
The 3rd Trust
will never boast, but cherish humility instead."
not an attribute we like to think about today. The entertainment
industry has contaminated our culture with images of pretentious
wealth and celebrity, along with bragging, self-important males
and exploitive females. Several generations have been influenced
by this constant flood of arrogant images. We feel repulsed only
when people go too far. Yet even then, completely obnoxious celebrities
retain loyal followers and are rewarded with profitable opportunities.
The "it's all about me" attitude remains pervasive.
Chivalry-Now, trying to convince people that humility is
something so special we should prefer it over prevailing attitudes.
Why do we
claim that? Quite simply because it is that special. It vitally
contributes to our personal authenticity and a genuine encounter
with the world.
It is wrong
to think that humility is the same as artificial modesty, or low
self-esteem. It is a frame of mind that sets our egos aside so
we can see the world around us more clearly. It provides an objectivity
that pure subjectivity will now allow. It reflects the calm authenticity
of a confident mind, comfortably and realistically engaged in
the world. It is therefore an attribute of the noble character
that Chivalry-Now presents.
It also recognizes
what we know deep inside - that a gregarious ego is usually the
result of poor self-esteem that we try to conceal from others.
It forms an impenetrable cocoon of fear and insecurity.
to boast has nothing to do with proving oneself, or helping or
serving others. Indeed, it subtracts from good intentions by glorifying
oneself at the expense of an otherwise splendid act.
us to be ourselves, and not lose who we are to false images based
The 4th Trust
will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word."
The most distinguishing
feature of a noble heart is its commitment to truth in everything.
Indeed, all the noble attributes, such as honor, trust, loyalty,
and even love, depend upon a strong regard for truth.
personal commitment, all the other Trusts lose their value, along
with the ideals that provide their foundation. The authenticity
of everything we consider human breaks down because reason, which
is completely dependent upon truth, is a defining factor of who
we are. Freedom becomes an amoral catchphrase subject to quirks
of ignorance. Democracy is severely handicapped, as we see happening
today, becoming little more than partisan gamesmanship. Personal
authenticity is lost. Love is reduced to a commodity on which
we trade. There are no moral absolutes. Values change according
to whim. Relationships no longer depend on trust. We surrender
the prospect of human dignity to the manipulation of illusions.
who speaks truth, however, taking time to reasonably know what
is true before speaking, is someone who can be trusted, someone
of unique value who brings to the world the insights and understanding
that it needs. With truth at hand, the reasoning mind, combined
with conscience (which forms the basis of Nature's Law),
provides the faculty that drives us toward the excellent realizations
of ourselves and our species. Without it, we lumber aimlessly
at the bidding of whatever misguided notion seems most clever
or profitable for the moment.
The 5th Trust
will defend those who cannot defend themselves."
the defense of others, we find the commitment that most reflects
the knightly call to action.
Here we find
the warrior spirit at its finest - a heartfelt impulse of the
true warrior to protect and serve a particular community, which
could be as small as a family or as expansive as the world itself.
words of Sitting Bull expressed it best: "The
warrior is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.
His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those
who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children,
the future of humanity."
To what good
is a warrior's strength to the human species if it not to protect
the helpless? The simple truth is, as we work to define and develop
who we are, we sanctify our strength and abilities and values
when we apply them for the good of others and for humanity as
a whole. We sanctify ourselves as creatures of moral commitment.
Here we inject the kind of purpose and meaning into our lives
that earned respect throughout the ages. So called warriors, or
bullies, who fail to achieve that commitment, give the warrior
arts a bad name.
Our time on
this earth is limited. Why waste it on the selfish ambitions of
mediocrity, or on cheap distraction? Why not live life directly
instead, with the enthusiasm of heroic purpose? Why angrily stir
the debate of dead-end issues that only serve to divide people,
when there is good to be done waiting right before us? When we
use our abilities for the sake of fairness or eliminating sorrow,
or safeguarding lives, we reap the personal benefits of having
meaningful purpose in life. Doing so completes who we are, bequeathing
a sense of fulfillment that otherwise escapes us.
a temporary power that should not be wasted or misused. Its purpose
extends beyond personal gain. Those who are strong are responsible
to use that strength wisely for the sake of justice and the betterment
of all - or civilization crumbles into chaos and war. In this
way, the ongoing cycle of generations protects the future well-being
of humanity from those who would sacrifice everything out of ignorance
and greed. (Greed is a form of ignorance, not so much of the intellect,
but of the workings of the soul.)
of this kind of warrior include:
- An intensity
for life that responds with energy and resolve to act when
- A desire
to perfect oneself for the benefit of all.
- A determination
to protect one's family, neighborhood, nation and world.
one's best in everything.
true not only to oneself but to others as well, resulting
in honesty, loyalty and integrity.
and the willingness to stand up
for what is right, even when everyone is against you.
infused with reality.
- A sense
of duty greater than one's own needs or safety.
As is true
for each of the 12 Trusts, the mandate to defend those
who cannot defend themselves has far deeper meaning than the simple
words of the Trust convey.
The 6th Trust
will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises."
This is the
modern rendition of the original chivalric call to protect and
serve all women, ladies especially. It was a turning point in
gender relations in the West, at least for the upper class. As
with all things, it naturally evolved.
we live in is entirely different from its medieval roots. Most
people today believe in the equality of the sexes. This, however,
does not deny generalized differences. Indeed, there are a wide
variety of differences within each gender, and within each family.
No two people are alike. Chivalry-Now recognizes the importance
and value of everyone as human beings. The proper response to
gender relations is one of respect and partnership.
As one self-described
feminist put it, Chivalry-Now is the counterpart of feminism.
It liberates men and boys from counterproductive ideas that have
hampered gender relations for ages. By replacing the image of
the dysfunctional male with something more admirable, as the 12
Trusts encourage, relationships will naturally improve and
everyone will benefit.
focus of Chivalry-Now was on awakening men, hence our first
book's sub-title "The Code of Male ethics." Since
those early days, many women have joined us, and we welcomed their
participation on an equal basis.
In this regard,
the message of this Trust seemed too limited. We therefore recognize
in the spirit of this Trust the rejection of all bigotry,
be it racial, sexual, ethnic, or religious. It is as much
a mandate for women to respect men, as the other way around.
It is time
we put questionable ideas that work against our truest values
behind us and move on. The world awaits us to meet our moral obligations
in the way we live.
The 7th Trust
will uphold Justice by being fair to all"
is not limited to the purview of judges, lawyers and lawmakers.
It is, first and foremost, a moral imperative for all of us to
treat people fairly. Laws and legal proceedings are what happens
when justice fails.
the very existence of justice directly on us. We give it life
in the way we treat one another. It is cumulative too. The more
justice that we, as individuals, bring into the world, the better
things are for everyone. Since justice can be thought of as morality
in action, we are obliged to add it to the world whenever we can.
of human life, with its capacity for thought and reason, and moral
ambiguity makes it our obligation to embrace a positive moral
code and live by it. Virtues, like justice, do not exist on their
own. They are human constructs that need human commitment. We
put them aside at our peril.
We know this
deep inside. Indeed, the unspoken stirrings of conscience demand
our participation. This explains the undercurrent of dissatisfaction
that we feel when we fail to uphold them. We not only lose our
sense of purpose, we deny the essence of who we are.
In this regard,
justice should not be treated as something reactionary. It is
a positive force that shapes our decisions in every day life.
The proper use of that power is what makes us heroic. When we
neglect that power, we add to the misery of life and slow the
progress of humanity.
Be fair to everyone. Defend those in need so that justice reigns.
Every person is deserving of justice. We are obliged by the very
fact that we are human to give it to them.
The 8th Trust
will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship."
What is the
truest measure of a man? That he be faithful in love, and true
to his friends.
We all want
the kind of love that medieval literature first introduced to
the Western imagination. Romantic love - with all its promise
and magic and permanence. We have long seen it depicted in movies
and literature, but usually only its phase of initial intensity.
Long lasting love is not something that writers seem able to portray.
Their stories usually end at the point when loved ones joyously
come together after some major adversity. We are left to assume
that they live happily ever after, but how they manage is not
shown. The most important lessons to be learned about successful
long-term relationships are missing.
of true romantic love, which every knight of medieval romance
understood, was a full commitment of the heart and mind - a dedication
that superseded everything else, and defied even the course of
time. Without such commitment, without the kind of love that makes
such commitment possible, couples are subject to the vagrancies
of time without the wherewithal to overcome them.
can achieve that kind of love. It depends on one's values. It
is therefore no coincidence that romantic love came about with
the advent of chivalry. The two are intrinsically combined. The
values and principles and courtesies that chivalry espouses make
the achievement of such love possible.
It is a matter
of personal values and integrity. How can a good love relationship
survive without honesty? Without defending one another when needed?
Without generosity or faithfulness or forgiveness? Without a strong
sense of friendship and loyalty? Without unselfishly recognizing
how to contribute, as a couple, to the greater good, in order
to validate its own significance? Without treating each other
with the tenderness of courtesy and affection?
A good and
lasting love relationship is seen as the highest test of chivalry.
It makes serious demands upon our principles on an everyday basis.
To those who manage to achieve it, however, those serious demands
feel as natural and as satisfying as a summer breeze.
to achieving romantic love is having a code of moral ethics, like
the 12 trusts, which gives us the personal attributes capable
of honoring and sustaining deep romantic love. Indeed, a solid
moral code provides the prerequisite not only for everything that
contributes to the fulfillment of life's authenticity.
The 9th Trust
will abhor scandals and gossip - neither partake nor delight in
to Arthurian Romance, the Knights of the Round Table met
each year on Pentecost to renew their vows. Part of their oath,
administered by King Arthur himself, was the admonishment
to "flee from scandal." We feel certain, by tragic events
that led to the dismantling of the Round Table, that this included
the avoidance of gossip as well.
It might seem
strange that this elite group of warriors would concern themselves
with the spread of gossip and scandal, but as noble knights they
were called upon, as we all are, to do more than fight the King's
battles. They were charged to serve as models of integrity. That
included civilizing and morally elevating the world they lived
in. The advocates of Chivalry-Now embrace that same duty.
We all know
that words can be hurtful and even destructive. They are the back-door
weapons of bullies, gossips and people of low integrity. The person
who revels in the imperfections of others in a caustic or predatory
way may feel powerful for a moment, and even popular as people
listen with wide-eyed fascination - but they also mark themselves
as habitually cruel and unworthy of being trusted, which belittles
them as well. In the end, no one morally profits from gossip,
and much damage is done.
Williams once said that "all cruel people describe themselves
as paragons of frankness." They excuse themselves by self-righteously
declaring that they are just telling the truth, as if that somehow
exonerated their hurtful intent. How would these same people would
feel if their own mistakes were laid bare in the same fashion,
and they were constantly made subject to ridicule?
calls for bringing out the best in people. Despite our best intentions,
we all make mistakes. No one is perfect. The Knight on his quest
knows this, perhaps better than most. The important thing is that
we rise from our defeats, hopefully smarter, and aim to do better.
We are called upon to help a fallen comrade, not heap on suffering
and derision in the form of ridicule. By refusing to be small-minded
and petty, we take the honorable path instead.
spokespeople and the media could learn much from this Trust.
The 10th Trust
will be generous to the poor and to those who need help."
was extolled by chivalry under the noble virtues of "largesse"
and "noblesse oblige." Arthurian
literature emphasized it as a sacred obligation to the established
social order, based on loyalty and mutual affection.
was required from those of power (the aristocracy), commoners
were expected to be virtuous, trustworthy and helpful as well.
An exceptional commoner was known as a "prudhomme,"
a "worthy man." In the literary
collection known as the Prose Lancelot, it was just such a person
who instructed King Arthur how to be responsibly generous. That
the King followed his advice accounted for the success of his
long reign. He learned the proper way to sustain healthy interaction
among his subjects through example, thus elevating the security
and happiness of them all.
world of abbreviated values and constant distractions, we forget
that communities are not just points on a map or demographics.
They are individuals, like all of us, bound by relationships with
one another. Their values and behavior influence the success and
happiness of their communities, including friends and families.
Such values are shaped by many things, including economic opportunities
and education - but the main component is simply the way that
people treat one another, thus deciding mutual prosperity.
It is the
obligation of the noble heart (noblesse oblige) to do what it
can to uplift the poor and assist those in need. Simply put, people
who are in a position to give should not only do so generously,
but in a meaningful manner. Helping and uplifting one another
is fundamental to the health and success of everyone within the
community. This has been true since our tribal origins.
But it Is
not enough just to give to those in need in order to fulfill obligations
and avoid guilt. As the worthy man unsparingly told King Arthur,
we should give in a caring and helpful manner that genuinely improves
people's lives, thus strengthening community dynamics upon which
we all depend. We are called to raise hearts, increase confidence
and self-esteem, and make compassion the glue that unites us all.
some people think, we do not belittle ourselves when we raise
the downtrodden. In the eyes of chivalry, we are living up to
The 11th Trust
will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven."
do not forgive past offenses, the results can be tragic. Anger
and hatred deaden the soul to the best intentioned spirit of humanity
that we are called to nourish. Truth often become the first casualty.
Gossip and slander usually follow in its wake. Clear thinking
is deterred by deep-seated obsession. Justice becomes a vindictive
bludgeon, or is set aside entirely. When all this happens, misery
spreads and personal character is impeded, sometimes beyond repair.
Families are broken; friendships dissolve; hostilities prevent
reconciliation, feeding a negativity that holds everyone back.
preys upon human weaknesses to the point of encouraging people
to hate one another just because they hold different opinions.
This difference of opinion, the stimulus of discussion and compromise,
was once considered the strength of democratic governments. Anger
does nothing but breed further contempt into a contest of anger
where the whole nation suffers.
It does not
have to be this way. We have universally admired models of forgiveness
for inspiration. Jesus. Abraham Lincoln. Nelson Mandela. Gandhi.
Martin Luther King. We should do more than admire such people.
We should learn from them as well.
those who hurt us can be a difficult challenge. Animosities may
calm down over time, and then an errant word brings back what
was never fully resolved or expunged. We seem to have no emotional
control, and that makes us victims of ourselves! This is why it
is so important to change our ongoing complicity to the enslavement
of unbending un-forgiveness.
of Chivalry-Now encourages us to embrace life as a quest
for truth, a quest for learning and growth and moral achievement.
While this is a valid course to personal fulfillment and authentic
living, it consists of challenges, some that seem almost insurmountable.
This is the adventure of life, the hero's journey. That we occasionally
fail is a given. The important thing is to try again.
we face in the world today cannot be solved in a climate of anger,
extremism and noncooperation. In this respect, forgiveness is
the first step to finding real answers. Those who rise above this
spiral of negativity will be the ones who lead the way to recovery.
The advocate who is empowered by truth, compassion, intelligence
and good will does not rely upon or need anger to bolster his
or her message.
will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward."
is given to the possible benefits of courtesy today. We tend to
regard it as a social accessory, used when needed to impress people.
Some recognize it as pleasant niceties related to good breeding
- others see it as nothing more than a means for seduction or
closing a sale. In other words, courtesy is seen as either a quaint
distinction of refinement, or a way to influence someone to get
what you want.
For the noble
heart, however, courtesy is a tangible, ever-present expression
of the 12 Trusts in our lives. It is the natural and unassuming
response to chivalry's commitment - reflecting the self-refined
character of a true Knight. Quite simply, it is the honorable
way to treat people.
never be limited to a way to act when certain occasions call for
it. In every aspect of our lives, it provides an ever-expanding
cultural dynamic that nurtures positive relations, even among
strangers. People respond well to expressions of respect that
contribute to their comfort and self-esteem, and carry that sense
of well-being beyond that particular exchange. The ripples on
a pond idea illustrates the possibilities of good deeds echoing
throughout eternity without our knowledge.
a lack of courtesy or, even worse, the insult of discourtesy,
convey the message of either ignorance, contempt or rude self-importance
- the very opposite of what today's chivalry is supposed to foster.
Ripples can be good or bad. We cannot know who later suffers because
of an errant word.
of the possibilities:
contributes to social harmony by providing benevolent
structures to all relationships.
- It breeds
not only friendships and good-will, but confidence
in knowing how to handle oneself in many situations.
We become more socially competent, which expands our potential.
- It proactively
dissolves barriers to communication, encouraging
cooperation and sharing of ideas.
honors the unique value of every person, thus
- It actively
encourages and supports the nobility of human life,
which sets the stage for fine accomplishments.
provides a tangible way for each of us to project the essence of
Chivalry-Now in everything we do. It attractively differentiates
those who bring the 12 Trusts to life from those who do not,
by appealing to what is best in people already. It reflects innate
ideals that will complete and fulfill who they are. In this way
we cultivate honor in our lives, and people respond in kind.
a downloadable copy of the 12
Trusts, suitable for framing.)