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The 12 Trusts and Politics

To those of us inspired by the ideals of chivalry, a sacred trust is given that we should not take lightly. We are charged to nourish and protect the song of liberty and justice to which the history of our civilization has given birth. If we are not committed to this obligation, the legacy will be lost, and a new barbarity will replace it.
    There are those who say that they defend those ideals with patriotic fervor, but are they really? Is it possible to protect or nourish what they frequently trample and discard at the same time? Freedom, justice, civility and honor have long been bantered about for political gain by those who scarcely understand the words. These ideals are, or should be, the center of who we are as an honorable people. To those who cherish virtue, they are life itself — not convenient clichés meant to rouse attention while we do the opposite.
    Let me state this as directly as I can. The ideals that liberate the soul would never propagate ignorance or hate, or deny equal rights to others. Justice cannot be justice if it is based on what is false. Incivility and rudeness represent the very opposite of what our civilization of the mind and heart stand for. Those who partake in that have lost their way. Those who think with open minds must speak out against them.
    The quest that chivalry bequeaths us is not a game or ideology that we follow. It is a serious growth of personal consciousness, a maturation process meant to develop all the finer aspects of the human species, including the refinement of virtue, intelligence and relationship. This individuation does not allow for selling one's integrity to self-proclaimed leaders, or following the crowd, or building roadblocks to discourse.
    It means thinking for oneself. It means finding truth even under the pressure of long held conclusions. It places reason over emotion, yet never allows one to eliminate the other. It means finding and implementing answers rather than polluting the world with infinite complaints. These are the citizen qualities that democracy needs. Without them, as our founders so noted, what is democracy other than the ugliness of mob rule, steered by libido and greed? This new barbarity propagates the very worst of humanity.
    During our lifetimes, we have witnessed the steady decline of courtesy and honesty in American politics and the so-called news media. This decline has reached the point where some of the most important fundamental aspects of democracy are being trampled. Love the Constitution all you want. Wave the flag and swear allegiance. But know this, democracy only works when citizens are well informed, given to thoughtful consideration, are civil in discourse, and respectful of the process that lifted western civilization out of darkness.

Chivalry-Now respects the individuality of citizens enough not to align itself with any partisan ideology. Each of us must make his or her own considered opinions.
    evertheless, how we respond to issues and politics falls squarely within chivalry's bounds. The following demonstrates how the spirit of the 12 Trusts can help in that regard.

1. I will develop my life for the greater good.

The 1st Trust prepares us for all the others by setting the foundation of purpose and meaning in our lives. We are part of the world around us, and that makes us responsible for the greater good. Ask yourself: Are your political stands based upon the greater good? Or to the good of special interests that represent just the opposite?

2. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth.

Greed is the enemy of conscience, and the downfall of many. Are your political alliances based on money rather than concern for others? Or the size of government, which in itself says nothing of virtue or competence?

3. I will never boast, but cherish humility instead.

Humility is the product of an open mind. It does not assume that your way is always the best way, or that others are automatically wrong or evil or the enemy. It listens. It tries to understand. It recognizes that we are all human and therefore fallible. In political discourses, do you reflect the kind of humility that invites honest sharing of ideas, and allows the possibility of being wrong?

4. I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word.

Truth is not something that is okay to bend for the sake of an ideology. Doing so betrays what is best in Western culture. When you engage in lies, you define yourself as a liar, and mar the reputation of all your ideals. This is not the Middle Ages, when weight was given to every claim and superstition. Reason and honesty claim their own supremacy. Disregard them, and you fail the basis of who you are. Ask yourself, in the game of political one-upmanship, are you speaking what is true? Or defending political slogans that divert people from a clear understanding of the issues?

5. I will defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Partisan politics care more about party loyalty and the acquisition of power than the greater good. It invites alliances based on expediency rather than virtue, no matter what its claim. Once that happens, everything becomes questionable, and often devious. Words end up masking more than they reveal. Fears are shamelessly exploited. Once that happens, democracy is doomed to fail, and the lives of the innocent become expendable. Look and listen carefully. Are you defending those who need defending? Are you protecting those who oppress them? Or are you defending an ideology that is no longer appropriate?

6. I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises.

Prejudice, in all its guises, sexism being one, racism another, impedes clear thinking and leads to wrong decisions. It is the mind in moral atrophy. Are you sufficiently combating sexism, along with similar forms of bigotry, such as racism? Prejudice means pre-judged. You are not seeing things for what they are in the aliveness of real relationships. A political ideology that allows, encourages or winks at prejudice is the enemy of freedom and truth.

7. I will uphold justice by being fair to all.

Justice is equivalent to fairness. How is it, that in politics, strategy, innuendo and unnecessary contention reign supreme? Winning is not everything. Enemies of truth should not be praised or admired for their victories. In the wake of their victories, lies the destruction of all our ideals. Ask yourself, when it comes to politics, are you really dedicated to justice? Or political gamesmanship? Listening to political spokespeople or media propagandists, the rhetoric of manipulation could not be more plain. As advocates for truth and virtue, we must demand fairness in public discourse, not the spreading of convenience lies.

8. I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship.

In Western culture, patriotism is comprised of more than the love of country, as defined by land and boundaries. It includes Western ideals values as well. Virtues and values have injected themselves into the forefront so that nationalism is replaced by something far grander — the hope of human potential. Indeed, patriotism is as much about freedom, human rights, and the virtuous pursuit of happiness as it is about place of birth and national defense. Faith and love lie at the heart of this devotion. True patriotism, in the Western sense, is a resistance to barbarism and greed. Ask yourself if you are being faithful toward all you love about your country, including its sense of right and wrong?

9. I will abhor scandals and gossip - neither partake nor delight in them.

Today's political machine, in close partnership with a news media that is more interested in entrainment than facts, thrives on spreading rumors and scandals that distract the general public from the daily governance of this nation. One sex scandal can overshadow a war for weeks on the nightly news. This too is a roadblock to informed democracy. If we truly demanded perfection from our elected officials, our choices would be few and grossly artificial. Are you allowing the cynicism caused by rumors and scandals to dissuade your concern about politics and the issues at hand? If so, you are helping to undermine our democratic system as well?

10. I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help.

Does your political opinion reflect an "I don't care about others" attitude? If it does, it cannot be called chivalry, which bases so much of its ethic on generosity and not mere expedience or reciprocation.

11. I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven.

The animosity prevalent in today's politics presents itself as more of an on-going feud than a discourse of opposing visions and ideas. Unwarranted partisan strategy has done well in dividing the nation against itself for political gain. Far more is accomplished to please corporate donors than care for the welfare of average citizens. This is facilitated when conflict distracts the population from watching what happens in Congress. It is time that we break this cycle of tension and work together for the greater good. This can only be accomplished by first forgiving the other side, in the hope that your side will also be forgiven.

12. I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.

Are your words expressed with the kind of courtesy and honor that chivalry stands for? The kind of courtesy, intelligence, and honesty that our founders so cherished that they made it the bedrock of our democratic republic? Or do you purposely instigate contention? Do you insult those who do the work of government, as if being a tax paying citizen gave you that right?

Look around. The times are calling for Chivalry-Now. No matter which party you identify with, or, like me, if you identify with neither, you can support and fight for the kind of civility and reason that our nation was built on. Without that civilized distinction, all our power and wealth and resolve means nothing morally, and in the process, we betray our hopes and traditions not only in Washington, but where we stand as well. There is much at stake, and none of our leaders seem ready to take a stand for the virtues we so value.

It is up to us.


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