Chivalry lives.

September 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

I believe that CHIVALRY can save the world. We all can be chivalrous. As long as there are people who choose to live with respect for one another, chivalry will never die.

It does, however,  need to be developed and redefined.

Once, in jest, I was told that I couldn’t be chivalrous because I am a woman. The word belongs to knights who joust and throw open doors for damsels. Gallantly.

Well, that’s not what I mean by it, so I am reappropriating the term.

CHIVALRY: living with a high-minded regard for other people.

At the heart of chivalry lies a spirit of altruism.  We need to stop pigeonholing it as the giving up of seats to feeble strangers; we need to extend the concept beyond these small courtesies, and start seeing it in anything that increases mindfulness for others’ needs. Chivalry is actively nurturing a spirit of understanding and connection.

Throughout time, of course,  the concept has encompassed various and oftentimes problematic modes and practices. But at its core, chivalry is about the obligations that we owe to one another. It’s about people with an amount of power who adopt responsibilities towards others as the right and proper consequence of that power.

This power is not the domain of nobility, patriarchy, or ability. This power belongs to everyone — we all bear responsibilities towards one another in the time that we share on this earth. Fulfilling these responsibilities means living with a deeper respect for the rights of mankind and the wonderful and fragile interdependence of humanity. The thing is to strive for a universal chivalry, one that transcends the strictures of time and social structure.

We can all be chivalrous. We can all nurture mindfulness and understanding. We can connect with one another and, so doing,  save the world.

Chivalry lives.


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