atma: ([FFT] Agrias - Stern)
When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a knight.

How many posts have I started with this line the past year or so? Far too many. All posts about me and about some aspect of life and self have started with this line. It was a story, a personal one, but one so relevant to life and society as a whole that it had to be shared. Parts of me nobody knew about were bared because they had to be to make a point. To stop others from going down my path and learning things before I ever had the chance to myself. To rant and vent.

But that story ends today. Today we're going to talk about the most core part of me and the most embarrassing thing to admit. It's also the most misunderstood part of me. But we're going to air this out, because it's the end and like hell I'm going to end this series of posts I've done without a bang.

We're talking chivalry. That magic word that throws so many off in so many ways. We're settling this here and now.

So once upon a time, there was a kid who wanted to be a knight. I identified as someone who held a sword and fought before I figured out any other part of my identity; I knew this is who I was before I even started kindergarten. Games and books and toy swords fascinated me and I knew from Day 1 I was not the damsel.

We all know by now I've struggled with the ideas of idealism and heroism. Those are okay to have nowadays since people still want to be heroes who save everyone. It's why some become soldiers or medics still. It's accepted by society.

We know I've struggled with both sexual and gender identities. Was I really a man? In between? And how much did I love ladies and try to deny it for so long? I repressed a lot of it and was unhealthier for it, but society too is slowly gaining mass acceptance for these things. These aren't what aspects of myself people use against me much anymore.

There's been a lot in my life I've dealt with but I somehow came out okay. While I struggled with falling off the path into blind heroism off and on or denied myself who I was or put on masks and hid from others, one thing kept me going above all. One part of me has never changed, only been refined and honed, and it's what got me out of all of this.

It's chivalry.

I've followed it since I was a kid. Since before I hit puberty. I read history books about the medieval era and books on knights and how codes of honor came to be and some part of me just knew it's what I needed to follow. It's kept me alive on days I'd be dead instead for some reason or another, or kept me from self destructing and lying so hard that I lose everything.

But goddamn do I get some flack for it.

I know, I know, most of my friends would say it's an okay thing to have. They understand. That's fine, and I thank you all for it, but it's not how the majority see it.

It's outdated, they say. Isn't that the shit Nice Guys pull, they ask in revulsion. It's faggy and not manly enough, they scream. I'm obviously still some disillusioned kid stuck to fantasy novel ideals about war and helping others. No way could it ever make sense in a modern conetxt.

This is where they're wrong.

Chivalry is about doing. It was originally for helping women, those that couldn't fight, your lord, your church, so they wouldn't have to get dirty or upset. There was no reward but honor and knowing someone did the right thing. It's hard to do the right thing, because what's right isn't always good or easy. It's placing burden on yourself for others who cannot carry it, it's knowing when to be selfish and treat yourself right because this way you live and last longer and can do more for more people, it's the difference between saying and actually doing it. It's being reliable, making the hard decisions and choices, and being the best friend and ally one can call on in a crisis.

It's common sense. It's basic manners. It's doing because it's nice to do things for others. I'm not holding doors open for strangers expecting the women to swoon at me and sleep with me, I do it because it's nice and brightens peoples' days. I help people I'll never see again get shit off shelves because nobody else can be arsed to. I climb around and under things because who else can without demanding compensation? It's saying please and thank you and offering and sharing and letting others go ahead or giving up your seat. It's an ability to see past gender and race and age and sexuality and faith, because no matter how much of a shithead people can be, they're still our fellow man.

And it is in chivalry I find my compassion for that fellow man and am optimistic and willing to fight for our future and our rights, no matter how bleak it can be. I could see even as a kid that turning into my family or my shitty neighborhood wasn't going to be the right way to live. These people were assholes, but they needed help too. They just didn't know how to ask. If I could even listen to them, it might save them. I saw girls I liked and wanted them to be okay and put it upon my dumb pre-pubescent self to oversee their well being, if even from a distance, because these people were important to me and I may be the only one who could or was even willing to try.

Even just trying when nobody else will is chivalry.

However, so many scumbags have co-opted the term chivalry nowadays that most people associate what they do with it and not what I do with it. Mine is more rooted in the historical context; respect people I know as equals and allies, respect my gods and never invoke them to harm another, respect everyone I don't know and above all, do the right thing always. For me, for others. Get down and dirty because I'm hale and hearty and someone else may not be.

This is not their chivalry. Theirs is tainted in greed and reward. They do it hoping women will fall to their feet for their deeds. For money. For being recognized as superior. For their egos. Once that greed has entered the equation, it is no longer chivalry. It has morphed into an ugly chauvinism and nothing more. They don't know what it's like to need help and be too proud or embarrassed to ask and not knowing how to thank people for even small favors. They've never needed, just wanted and craved mindlessly. They cannot and will not be chivalrous until they realize this and clean it up.

I admit it's an extremely fragile line between the two, which is why it's easy to mess them up. But it doesn't have to be.

Chivalry nowadays is hard to get. But it's the only morals I've ever held this fast too and this consistently and like hell I'm going to give it up and let some assholes on MRA forums ruin it for me and the rest of us. The only way to counter their greed is with both my kindness and my contempt for their actions. There's bring no honor to anyone. Chivalry should bring honor and happiness to both the person enacting it and the person on the receiving end. By tainting it, you spit upon everyone else and yourself.

And what kind of life is that even? Chivalry is often thankless, but it's what should be done to keep things running smooth and happy. Just knowing someone out there was helped by me is enough for me. It's saved my life and given me a reason to live, and because it has, I will never leave it. Every act I do, every word I speak is drenched in it. Always has been, always will be. It's my understanding of the world.

What's important though is it's mine. It's not yours or anyone else nor should it be. It's my own burden I placed on myself and it's not an easy path to live on. Chivalry is knowing you may be alone or sneered at or going friendless and unthanked and being okay with it anyways, because who else is going to be this stupidly optimistic and open? Chivalry is vulnerability, and you will get used and trampled on. But you stand back up every time and offer your hand again to others. It is knowing you may have to stand up to people you'd rather not, even friends and lovers, and being ready to take them down if needed. They're too far gone to help then and your services are better elsewhere.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but me. But I wouldn't trade my own flavor of chivalry for anything. I'm a knight stuck in the modern era and that's never going to change. The definition of chivalry may shift slightly but its core and mine remain the same and steadfast as ever. My glory may not be found on a battlefield defeating an enemy lord, but it can be found in serving and delivering for all others and fighting more personal demons.

So the next time you see someone wondering why people would even try to be chivalrous nowadays, remember the story of the girl who wanted to be a knight. She encountered every possible obstacle and then some in her quest, but she never gave it up. The dream changed form several times but her chivalry and kindness never wavered. They kept her going, leading the way like a small golden beacon in the distance, illuminating even the darkest of days. Her morals propped her up and she never once betrayed them nor did they betray her.

So here we are, almost two thousand words later. In the end, the girl who wished she would become a knight finally grew up to be one. It took her whole life, but now she can carry that title with pride and finally start living and evolving. Her foundation is set. Now she just has to continue to be it in every way.

They said chivalry is dead. Not so long as I breathe and fight and write, it will live and burn yet.

So ends the tale of the girl who became a knight. So starts the tale of the girl who was one.
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atma: (Default)
The Sunset Samurai

July 2017

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