Question for Knights and Companions, Mark I

The noble Order of the Knights of Jubal traces its origins back to the Year Two Thousand A.D., when a group of distinguished persons of good and true character, founded the order to promote chivalry and honour. The order takes its name from our leader, Alexander Jubal McRae, who on two (so far) occasions has been seriously injured, in one case fatally, defending an innocent woman from attackers.

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Question for Knights and Companions, Mark I

Postby Silver Adept on Mon Dec 16, 2002 8:35 am

In the other forums (ivbalis dot org slash forums), rei suggested that to help build the library of writings that are sorely lacking on the EI website, that we post a question to the Knights and Companions in general and collect their response, editing them into a form postable on the web.

So, here's the first question (and it's a doozy...)

To you, what is Chivalry?

Ready? GO!
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Postby Dafodarian on Sat Dec 21, 2002 3:49 am

Hey, you don't start with the easy ones, do you? :wink:

Okay, since it was my complaints about the paucity of writings in the library that kicked this off, here's my two shillings.

Chivalry, in it's traditional form, is the code of knightly behaviour. Hence it is, as such, largely superceded in the modern world, and generally relegated to children and wishful thinkers. Bear with me on this, I have a point...

In order to see what it could mean in a modern context, I shall now deconstruct the principles around which the concept of chivalry was based, see how they alter or remain unchanged with the passing of centuries, and then... Well, I can't really give you the definitive concept of what chivalry is now, but I can give you some of my ideas as to what it might be. Hope they're helpful.

First principle - Personal honour - This is, more or less, an aside from the whole issue, but important enough to it to be worth a comment or two. Honour is the cornerstone of life, and everybody has one. From the holy warrior defending his faith, to the mugger in the alley, to the average man on his way to work, to the CEO of a multinational, to the starving widower in a council estate. Admittedly, most of them may not think about it, but they all have some compass that they follow. Similarly, some may appear skewed, or even downright warped to others, but they are there. The only people who do not follow some form of code, for any reason, appear to be those who are aware of the existance of their own code, but refuse to follow it, as in the most contrary of cases. Yes, I do not include most criminals or the insane in this segment - for the most part they follow their own ways.

N.B. - I said they have a code of sorts, not necessarily one of which we may wish to approve, or can even, of certainty, understand...

Okay, I know that some people may take that last chunk as inflammatory - Please don't. It's just there to show that 'Personal honour' is so mutable over the fabric of a society, unless it is formally codified, that it becomes a null term in defining a social phenomenon, such as chivalry. Also remember, when you try to codify honour, it tends to become law, and if you think people rate law on the same level as honour, check your national speeding-fine averages.

Okay, so what else gives rise to chivalry? How about the feudal system? Okay, you, at the back, yawning, I know. Feudalism is dead - we don't (or at least most of you don't :wink: ) have royalty any more, and we certainly don't go down on bended knee to pledge fealty to them personally. Okay, but let's look at what we do have -

Corporate life. A lot of us hold down steady jobs, from waiting tables at the family coffee shop, to assembly line leader, to executive on the rise... I don't think we have any CEOs, but if we do, you count, too. So, consider our assembly line team leader - you are a knight! (Well, of sorts...) You have your line, which is your holding, and the people on it, who are the peasants under your command. Within your lord's dictates, you are free to run it how you see fit. However, you also have your lord (I use the male for ease, not implication), and he sets your quotas. If you do not fulfill your quotas, you will either be stripped of your rank and another will be raised up instead, or you will be banished (pink slip time, folks) from the kingdom. So, if you keep your lord happy, you prosper. Same goes for the waiter, caught between the customer and his boss. The exec, with flunkies and boss. The CEO with his corp and the government. All the same story.

Okay, now people are thinking 'Isn't this institutionalised drudgery?', I suspect, so let's turn it inside out and look at our knight of the assembly line again.

He has power over his peasant, certainly, and if he wants to rule with an iron fist, he can. Hey, even in the dark ages, there were rulers who were more interested in cash than happiness. Still, assuming our knight has more than two braincells to rub together, he might consider that happy people work harder than unhappy people, and are far more willing to do half an hour's overtime when the quotas bite. Therefore he makes an effort to remember everyone's names, to help out the new kid until she gets the hang of the job, to ask his boss for the coffee machine in the lounge to be fixed, to try and help people have fun as well as work. You may have heard of this - it's the basic principle of 'the obligation of nobility', the safeguarding of the powerless and providing for their wants.

That's three then - honour, power and duty. Honour is a personal thing, and I can't tell you anything about it that you don't already know. On the other hand, the balance of power and duty is more or less the heart of the matter. It is possible to wield power well, or badly, and in most cases there are no easy guides as to which way is which. On the other hand, duty can help with that - if you consider the dues you owe to those less and more powerful than yourself, maybe you'll think of the knock-on reactions of your exercise of power, and how it affects others. And if you pause and consider them, it gets a whole lot harder to wield power badly, at least intentionally.

And yes, everyone has a measure of power - you can make the people who love you feel good or bad, for instance. And yes, I know it's possible for you to act with the best motives in the world, and still screw up horribly. But you have to ask yourself, is the possibility that my acts may not help the situation a good enough reason to sit on my hands?

I say that if you can strive to help, and keep doing it when you've seen your attempts twisted by others, trampled on by the uncaring, and when you've seen those you love hurt by your actions, if you can see and do all that, and not lose your faith in the rightness of what you're doing...

...That's chivalry.

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Chivalry is...

Postby Greg on Mon Dec 30, 2002 6:17 am

Chivalry is...
  • having a moral code, and having the courage to live by it.
  • treating people with respect. For their rights, for their beliefs and for their dignity.
  • striving to have an empathy with people. To understand their point of view, and their needs, and then to find a way that those needs can be met.

That's what chivalry means to me.
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