Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Reinventing the Wheel: Chivalry for the 21st Century

Water Lilies rise above the mire untainted. Cherrybrook Zoo.
The 20th Century changed the rules. I have been told by some that chivalry is dead - what follows is usually a tirade of pure chauvinism, dressed up in the code-word-nomenclature of "Male Rights Activism".

When I was in college, what I've taking to as the Great Coming Out of the Atheists was in full swing. The population of openly atheist individuals in the west reached a tipping point. Suddenly being safely edgy was as easy as saying you don't believe in a God. These next few years, the trend issue is going to be Feminism - true to form, people, safely anonymous on the internet, are running to either extreme. Reasonable voices in the middle are drowned out by stupidity.

Ignoring even that, however - the inherent stupidity of the idea of single-demographic activism - the statement "chivalry is dead" is false on the face. It's not dead - it's just sitting in the mire.

Honour is like silver. Neglected or abused, it becomes tarnished. Goes black. The light is lost, but, like silver, tender care can bring back out the polish. And just like tarnish, dishonour can destroy objects, but it can never destroy All Silver.

To say Chivalry was misused in the past is a half-truth. There are moral absolutes, certainly, and Chivalry had them at its roots. The problem was that moral absolutes are subjected to the whims and interpretation of the people who are applying them. People pick their favourites, ignore the others, and apply them through a lens of their own wisdom, ignorance, and prejudices. The root moral becomes twisted and unrecognized in the final code of conduct.

At Chivalry, the root (apart from butchering your enemies) was a concept of fairness. If we get outside the segments of the code dealing with combat (a dirty, nasty business where no rules should need apply), we run into the rules of conduct.

And if we boil that down to get the essentials, we get, of course, the Golden Rule.

Gold never tarnishes.

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