Reassessing the demise of the knight in shining armor
Whenever I give a talk on the subject of chivalry, I can rest assured that, no matter what else the members of the audience may know about the topic, there are three words at the forefront of everyone’s mind: Chivalry is dead.
Somewhere along the line, we got it pounded into our heads that chivalry and equality could not co-exist. But I think the analysts and social commentators who told us that, didn’t have a thorough understanding of what chivalry really was. They saw an act of courtesy or deference and interpreted it as the result of a condescending attitude. What they missed was the respect and mutual admiration which such an act of chivalry conveys — if they had looked at chivalry from that angle, I suspect there never would have been any talk about its “death.”
Chivalry was created during the Middle Ages to combat the attitudes of brutality, ignorance and prejudice which were all-too-common in that era of darkness and cruelty. Far from being dead, chivalry today is embodied by people whose actions are always trustworthy and admirable; who understand that strength and gentleness are not opposites; and who know the importance of standing by one’s principles, no matter how tempting the compromise.
In fact, chivalry seems to be more alive today than ever. People everywhere are reevaluating the things that are important in their lives, and they’re rediscovering the virtues that the code of chivalry stands for — hope, kindness, respect, integrity and courage. They are discovering that they can still be inspired by a hero, and, best of all, they’re realizing that when chivalry and equality stand side-by-side, anybody can be a knight in shining armor.