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Chivalry and Politics

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Chivalry and Politics

Post by dean jacques on Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:57 am

When it comes to politics, it is up to every man and woman to decide what issues to support, which candidate to vote for, and to what extent he or she wants to get involved. Chivalry has no say about those things, other than to encourage a broad application of personal virtues to your involvement. Truth, justice, civility, concern for people, and a strong regard for freedom are chief among them.
In the United States, our Constitution is such that it merits a distinct measure of loyalty, which extends itself to all three branches of government. This is not to say that we cannot question our elected officials and the choices they make. It is, in fact, our duty to question things, and sharply rebuke bad leadership. This is not disloyalty. In a democracy, our leaders represent us. It would be disloyal on our part not to watch, investigate, make suggestions, criticize when necessary and demand personal integrity. That's what the United States government is all about. To do otherwise betrays the heart and soul of our great nation.
Chivalry embraces both liberal and conservative issues, for it recognizes merit on both sides. It values the competing tension of both ideologies. Disagreements between left and right do not reflect a lack of chivalry per se. How disagreements are expressed, and the strategies they lead to, however, either honors the virtues of chivalry or denies them. There lies our ethical concern with politics as practiced now. The antics we see in Washington on a daily basis makes a mockery of all our ideals, and insults the vision of our founders.
We hear about spin and disinformation, cherry-picking intelligence. We see the ongoing defense of party issues that are basically indefensible. We are subjected to ideological wars that we, the people, do not endorse. We share the guilt of corrupt leaders when we see and hear and even despise their actions, but allow them to continue.
If we embrace the ideals of chivalry, if we expect virtuous behavior from the men and women who represent us, if we are to be a moral nation in more than name only, then we, the people, have to make it so. The dynamics of today's politics are morally shameful in their lack of integrity and empty, meaningless words.
To the individual, chivalry provides a moral paradigm that breeds good citizenship and political awareness. For starts, it elevates truth, the complete truth, to prime importance. Democracy does not work if its leaders lie or disguise the truth from their constituents. Truth might not sound good at the time, or appeal to our egos, or flatter national pride, or blind us to the moral results of our actions. But it is real, and that makes all the difference in the world. National illusions detract from our moral efficacy.
Chivalry also calls for fairness, and helping those in need. It calls for sacrifice in the very best ethical traditions, not the small-minded self-interest of the charlatan or thief. It calls for honor and civility, not the vulgarities of superficial pride.
There is more. Chivalry demands the kind of personal integrity that does not allow you to sell your soul to extremism, or the charisma of leaders, good or bad. If you support everything liberal out of hand, or everything conservative, then something is wrong. Your vision of the world has been poisoned by extremism, which has led to this unseemly war of American ideologies.
If you adopt the exact political conclusions of your family or friends, then they are ready made products that are not your own. In a true democracy, which so depends on the integrity of its people, even more than it depends on the integrity of its leaders, having an open mind is paramount to our responsibilities. Militant extremists are not what America needs. They are anathema to the very soul of America, which was woven by visionary and independent minds.
We are not our flag. We are not a particular religion, or race, or dominant gender. We, the people, are merely that—people! We must respect honest differences and discard the special interest forces that divide us. If we do not, the humanitarian dream that the United States represents will fail miserably. And we will bear the blame.
We like to think of ourselves as world leaders, yet shirk the moral responsibilities such leadership entails. It is time we take a moral inventory of our rhetoric versus our true beliefs, and hold leaders fiercely accountable for what they say and do.
Chivalry does not ask us to be liberal or conservative. It tells us, rather, to view things with an open and educated mind. It tells us that we are duty-bound to understand the issues we vote on, and see through the political spin that bombards us on the nightly news. We have to look beyond the shallow sound-bites of our tinsel-town media.
The decisions we have to evaluate almost never fall completely within party-lines. We have to beware of what issues are placed before us that distract us from the greater good. And yes, sometimes the issue we are called to vote for will go against our own selfish interests. True morality is not about justifying our ingrained weaknesses.
This is how the self-discipline of chivalry provides us with qualities of citizenship and political involvement that extremists would pull us away from.
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