Monthly Archives: February 2013


slicethelife

Sepia-color photo of a young man in military uniform

Frank Buckles died 2 years ago on this day at the age of 11o. Frank Buckles was the last American Veteran of The Great War- World War I. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and served in with a detachment from Fort Riley, driving ambulances and motorcycles near the front lines of Europe. He would be captured during World War II by the Japanese while in the Philippines working in the shipping business and would be held prisoner for three years. After the war he came back to the states and lived the rest of his life on a farm near Charles Town, West Virginia. He was married. A widower at 98, he worked on his farm until he was 105. He died at 110 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with POTUS Obama attending with full military honors. In another 20 years or so they will…

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Sunday’s Article … “I Found My Lance Chivalry Part 3”


English: A Palmetto Glade Near Palatka, Florida.

English: A Palmetto Glade Near Palatka, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Sunday’s article will be from a Southern perspective. Mine. I am a Southerner who has spent 20 years in self-imposed exile. The first thing I learned about living in the north, is that there are plenty of people who treat you like you are stupid as soon as they find out you are a Southerner (not all northerners, just some). It does not matter how smart you are (my IQ is over 160) they still treat you like you are stupid. The first thing I did was work hard on losing the Southern accent (I didn’t know I had one until I moved north). Then I started to pull back on everything my family, neighbors, teachers, and other adults in Palatka, Florida taught me as a child growing up in the South, just so I would “fit in” with northerners.

There is a bible verse that says something to the effect “raise your child right and they will return to it when they are older.”

Official seal of Palatka, Florida

Official seal of Palatka, Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is just what Palatka did, and I am returning too it. Of course, “you can take the Southerner out of the South, but you can never take ALL of the South out of the Southerner.” So, I didn’t hide from everything, and it will be easier for me to get back to who I am.

This Sunday’s article will be what that little Southern town taught me about being a man, and what my responsibilities are as man. In other words this Sunday’s article will be about Southern Chivalry.

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning (Photo credit: jspaw)

So, until we meet Sunday, have a chivalrous day.

Joe

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Who Made This Lance Anyway? — Chivalry Part 2


Chivalry

Chivalry (Photo credit: aperture_lag)

I intended the article on chivalry last week was to be one article. I did enough research to write a book, but quickly boiled it down to my self-imposed word limit. Then I had such a response I decided to write a second article, which has now grown to four. So, here is the second installment, “Who Made This Lance Anyway –Chivalry Part 2”.

When we think of chivalry we think of Camelot and King Arthur, knights and ladies. We also think of men opening doors for women and pulling out their chairs for them. So, where did chivalry begin and what did it mean.

God Speed! by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900: a l...

God Speed! by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900: a late Victorian view of a lady giving a favor to a knight about to do battle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since most of us think of medieval, European knights we will start there. Chivalry began in France. It is much older, but we will get to that later. Before knights and the round table, men owned the lands they could hold, and they employed warriors to insure their rule of that land. Though, quite often these nobles or landowners found themselves damaged by the same warriors they employed, equally by the warriors actions and inactions. These warriors were an undisciplined lot. This led to the Knight’s Code of Chivalry. It was a moral code to live by, a code that sought a higher standard of accountability of those who lived by the code. Being a chivalrous knight was the only way men had of improving their station in life. As the Muslims united under one warrior leader and spread their influence throughout Arabia, North Africa and then into Southern Europe the knights were united under a common cause, a religious war against the Muslims. The code changed to incorporate this religious war. This part is not important to our discussion of chivalry, but there is much that has been written on the subject if you wish to examine this more.

There are many different warrior codes which are very similar. I have tried to consolidate these into one universal code, which explains the warrior code of conduct. The original warrior code these European knights became disciplined by was:

1 Honor: Always act honorably, always show honor to others (peers, subordinates, seniors, God, Country and self). This included other knights, men, women, poor, nobility, royalty, God, and country.

2 Respect: Respect goes with honor, all are to be respected, including self, though the most respected knights, honored and respected their enemies as well, while doing all within their power to defeat their enemies.

3 Loyalty and faithfulness: loyalty and faithfulness to God, country, king (or whoever employed the knight) and peers (other knights). Loyalty and faithfulness go hand-in-hand, one cannot exist without the other

4 Courage: Never show cowardice, death is better than retreat.

5 Mercy: Be merciful to the weaker, less fortunate, and your defeated enemies (though make sure your enemies cannot attack you again).

6 Fairness: Always act justly and do what is right to all and with all.

7 Protection for those in need: Protect and defend those who cannot protect and defend themselves.

8 Honesty: Never lie, not in word deed or by omission.

9 Wisdom: A knight should be wise, to always distinguish the honorable and just words and deeds in every situation, and to know how to enact each part of the code in every situation.

10 Humility: This is the keystone of all the rest. Without humility a knight becomes an arrogant boor, a mere caricature of what he would otherwise become.

"Chivalry," 1885 by Sir Frank Dicksee

“Chivalry,” 1885 by Sir Frank Dicksee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The codes placed emphasis on action in combat, but were to be a moral code to live by. A noble or landowner gained nothing if a knight pillaged the lord’s peasants or stood-by while others raped, pillaged, and plundered the peasants, land and property of the lord. This chivalric code was intended to govern all of a knight’s actions, words, and deeds. All other forms of chivalry are rooted in the Knight’s Chivalric Warrior Code.

Domnei (or courtly love) was a medieval European conception of chivalry in love. It was never expressed between husband and wife (marriages at this time were arranged). Domnei was secret and between members of the nobility. Courtly love was “… a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent.” Courtly love was secret and never consummated. Though this was in accordance of the chivalric code, I am sure the code was bent quite often if not broken completely on this last part.

The intent was for domnei to be chaste and the story of King Arthur teaches us of the consequences of  unchaste domnei. Though seldom recognized as such, unchaste domnei is a central point of the story. Do you remember what happened to Camelot after Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot consummated their love? King Arthur died and the paradise of Camelot was forever lost as well.

Camelot was paradise on earth. A perfect example of the code of chivalry in action. The peasants love and honored their king and queen. No knights were as chivalrous as the knights of Camelot. Even the round table advanced the principles of chivalry. When Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere engaged in their courtly love, all was still as it should be in the kingdom of Camelot. However, when that love was consummated, all was lost.

Though it is now believed that King Arthur was an historical figure, much of what we know about King Arthur is not historical fact. The story of King Arthur and Camelot very well may have been a parable meant to teach us what is possible under the code of chivalry, and what happens when we violate the code of chivalry.

Though we often think of medieval Europe when we think of chivalry, chivalry is as old as man, and as wide spread. Remember the knightly chivalric code of conduct? Now we go across oceans and time, centuries before medieval Europe to an island off the coast of Asia.

Samurai

Samurai (Photo credit: kennabee)

Bushido.

Translated Bushido means, “the way of the warrior.” Confused? Where is Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad? Ah. Let us look at the ten virtues of Bushido.

1 Rectitude

2 Courage

3 Benevolence

4 Respect

5 Honesty

6 Honor

7 Loyalty

8 Filial piety

9 Wisdom

10 Care for the aged

Look familiar? It should. But a warrior code as a moral code to live by does not end there.

Now we go further west, to China itself. The Youxia or “wandering force”. These knights wandered the land using force if need be, to right the wrongs done to the common people and the emperor, if need be. How did they know when and where to act, or what to do? That’s right, they had a warrior code, a moral code, a chivalric code they lived by. One last stop in our journey.

Now we go to the south shore of the Baltic Sea in the 10th century to the stronghold of Jomsborg. Vikings. These warriors too had a strict code that they lived by and guided every aspect of their lives. Membership was open to any man between 18 and 50. Any violation of the code was punished by expulsion from the order. Vikings as chivalrous knights … who would have thought?

Vikings-Clash

Vikings-Clash (Photo credit: Tancread)

Every culture and time period has a warrior class with a code, a moral code, a chivalric code, that seeks to instill honor and discipline. A code to live by. Even the modern United States military has The Uniform Code of Military Justice. A code that seeks to control the conduct of its warriors both on and off the field of battle.

You see chivalry is as old as mankind. Often the code these warriors live by is many pages long, sometimes only a few short sentences, and sometimes not written down at all. No matter the language, no matter the country or time, each code of chivalry has one unifying principle.

Put others first.

Has Anyone Seen My Lance? — Chivalry Part 1

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Sunday’s Article


I always listen to you (though sometimes some of you may think otherwise). So, I am postponing my intended article on a personal hero of mine to do a second article on chivalry. I have gotten some great comments and e-mails (along with quite a few views), so I am taking the lance up again. Sunday part two on chivalry.

Have a great week!

Joe

 

People in the Bus for Public Transportation

People in the Bus for Public Transportation (Photo credit: epSos.de) (I wonder if that young man standing gave up his seat to the young woman sitting? I’d like to think so. Joe)

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Has Anyone Seen My Lance? — Chivalry Part 1


 I know I left it around here somewhere. Oh well, it will show up. I guess I really don’t need it to talk about chivalry.

Chivalry. I could give you the historical background of chivalry, the knight’s code and all of that. Its origins in medieval France, and the many aspects of chivalry. Naw … let’s just go for romantic chivalry. Not the romantic chivalry of college professor’s lectures either with all the poems and literature written in English (or so the experts say, I’ve never heard anyone speak like that). Nope. I am going to talk about opening doors and all that, well not all of that but I am going to start our conversation and then let you take from there.

First though a word about chivalry and feminism. I am not going to spend much time on this, we all have enough negativism in our lives and feminist are usually very negative on chivalry.

First to the feminist, despite what Katie Roiphe or some of her peers think, not all men are potential rapists. Some men may even find you repugnant or they may even be gay, but they opened the door for you because they were there first. Be kind (there is not enough kindness in the world). After you enter the door tell the man you appreciate his courtesy, but you prefer to get your own doors, you can even tell him you are a feminist if you want. Also, chivalry IS about respect and it is not about manipulation. Is this true for every man, I do not know. But it is true for myself and every man I know. Every woman is an individual and unique in her own special way, and so are all men. It is just that some men, like some women, are not very nice people.

Once I had a woman who was remarkably rude. I entered before her, shut the door in her face, smiled at her through the glass door, and then I turned and walked away … humming a happy tune. Very rude of me, and I have not done that since. However, her response to the door standing open before her was enough to make this sailor blush at her language. Now when a woman responds in a rude manner I simply reply, “Yes, and the president can get his own “damn doors” too, but he doesn’t.”

Now on to chivalry.

First there are things I will do for every woman (opening doors is one, even if I have to wait for her for a few seconds). But there are other things I do only for the woman I am with. Chivalry is not about “I am better than you”, “I am stronger than you”, “I belong to the dominate sex” or any of that other rubbish. Chivalry is about respect … period. The knight’s code did not just dictate courtesy to ladies, but to gentlemen as well, including the king.

At one time all chivalric gestures were from men to women. But modern women are getting into the act too. And I applaud them for it. Guys women like to give too, and you know how great it makes you feel to treat women with respect, so we need to not be selfish and let them enjoy that good feeling too. I always appreciate it when a woman opens a door for me. I respond with direct eye contact, a sincere “Thank You”, and a smile (I learn this from you, ladies). Sometimes women want to treat you, and pick up the tab or split the tab. Let them, turn around is fair. Now I am not saying all women are like that or that they should be. But if your lady is like this, don’t be selfish, let her.

Ok, what are some of the other things we can do to bring back chivalry.

Pulling out chairs for your lady. But I do not recommend pushing it in. I had this happen to me at a very nice restaurant once. I was not expecting it, and the waiter almost dumped me on the floor when he pushed the chair in. Let her pull her own chair up. You are trying to be respectful, so don’t throw her off balance literally.

When walking up stairs or across a lawn or any rough terrain, offer her your hand. Not the first three fingers, your hand. You try walking across a lawn or up stairs (or down) in high heels and see how easy it is …. not. When she is “dressed to the nines”, that usually means those very thin, very long, high heels. So unless you are prepared to see this woman you adore (and all women are worthy of adoration, even the ones who aren’t), then give her your hand. Give her your whole hand, palm up so she can lean on your hand, retain her balance, grace, and dignity.

When I am at a restaurant, whether it is just the two of us, or if there are others in our party as well. If it is my invitation, that means I am the host. I place the order with the waiter, and if there is a problem I address the waiter and have it taken care of. Women at the table, men at the table, it does not matter I am the host. However, if someone prefers to do this for themself, I defer to them. Chivalry is about respect, not making people feel uncomfortable by forcing them to do things your way.

I always like those cars before they became all electronic. Something I always watched for was a lady reaching across to unlock my door. You know what I am talking about. You walk her to her side of the car, your car keys in hand, insert the key, unlock her door open it for her and wait until she is seated, and then you close her door and walk to your side of the car. As you walk across the front of the car you look at her to smile at her and she is reaching across to unlock your door for you. Ladies I don’t care if it was the date from hell. With this once small act of chivalry, you just got me to ask you out for a second date.

You see chivalry, at its very heart, is about kindness and respect. You make someone feel special, because to you they are special. Chivalry is about taking an extra effort that you do not have to take, but you want too. Chivalry is about showing deference to someone, not because you have to, not because you are superior, not because they are inferior, but because you want too. A chivalrous act should never become automatic. No matter how many doors you open for strangers, for that one moment in time, that  one stranger is unique and special. Do not ruin it by keeping your eyes on your I-phone, look that man or woman in the eye and smile.

Have a chivalrous day!

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