When I first think of chivalry, I think of knights and dragons and damsels in distress. It's not really something that I associate with the society that we live in today. You've heard it before, chivalry is dead. But I don't really believe that. It's too final, it doesn't leave any room for us to be better people again. Chivalry isn't dead, it's napping. And I think it's time for us to wake it up.
To me, chivalry isn't just about brave knights coming to rescue helpless princesses. It's having the courage to always do what you know is right, regardless of what happens or what other people think. And it isn't only about the big things in life, it's also about the little choices we make everyday. Countless times during the course of a day, people are faced with situations where they are forced to choose between doing the right thing and the wrong thing. More often than not, there is a middle choice, it's not quite wrong, but it isn't exactly right either. Chances are, this middle choice will be easier and more tempting. Chivalry is doing the right thing just because you know it's right.
Chivalry is holding the door open for old people and people with babies. It's loaning your favorite skirt to your best friend for that big party even though you know she's going to spill something on it. Chivalry is being the best person that you can be at all times. It's totally idealistic and as such unreachable. We will never be perfect, but we can always be better today than we were yesterday.
I was at this website the other day and (I forgot to write down the address, and I'm not entirely sure if this is accurate, but it works so let's just go with it) I was reading about the virtues that were considered chivalrous by knights and kings and what have you back in the day. It said that they figured the five key virtues of chivalry were honor, loyalty, courage, generosity, and forgiveness, and I think that these are still things that every person should strive to be.
Honor is doing what you say you will and treating other people fairly and with kindness, no matter how they have treated you. It means that when you do something wrong, you come right out and say so, you accept responsibility for it even if you know someone is going to be really mad about it. People who are honorable admit when they've made a mistake and then do everything they can to fix it. They ask to be forgiven, but they don't expect it and they accept whatever happens.
Loyalty, to me, is the biggest thing. It's the quality I value most in other people and in myself. To me, being loyal to someone means that you will stick with someone through anything. Even if you think they're wrong, you recognize that it's their decision and you stay with them anyway. Knowing that you have someone you can count on is absolutely the most encouraging thing in any difficult situation.
Which brings me to courage. Courage isn't not being afraid of anything; people who aren't afraid of anything are stupid. Courage is seeing what needs to be done and doing it even though it scares you. Real bravery is facing the things that scare you.
I think that generosity is underrated. I don't necessarily mean giving people things, it's more than that. Generosity is going out of your way to do something for someone else just because you can, not because you have to. It's what you do for other people without getting anything in return, just to make things easier for them. Besides, doing something that makes someone else feel good will almost always make you feel good too.
Forgiveness is something that I find surprisingly difficult to explain. To me, it's believing that no one ever really sets out with hurting someone else as their goal. It's automatically assuming that when someone does something to you, there wasn't any malice behind it and then being able to let it go because even if they haven't said so, you don't believe that they did it on purpose.
It's impossible to be completely chivalrous. It's a goal that nobody will ever achieve and because of that a lot of people don't see the point in trying. The thing they don't understand is that the harder we try, the better we get. Just because we won't ever be perfect, it doesn't mean we won't ever be great.