March 9, 2018

A FLaK Definition of Honor and Chivalry

I think honor and chivalry are wonderful words, conjuring all manner of imagery of knights and kings, lords and ladies in waiting, towers and tresses, swords and sorcery. But what do these words actually mean? According to the illustrious Daniel Webster,

honor / ä’-nər /
a keen sense of ethical conduct; integrity


chivalry / shi’-vəl-rē /
the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.

While I appreciate these formal definitions, they have never seemed practical to me as a philosophy or a guide to my own comportment. Over the years, I have managed to come to a set of definitions that fills this need, and sits well with me on a visceral level. I offer these up for review, but, should they not speak to you on a similar level, I encourage you to formulate your own, meaningful and functional definition to help guide you on your journey.

In FLaK terms, honor is the way you treat yourself. Your personal integrity, and the respect you give to yourself by living up to your own personal standard, holding yourself to a higher ideal, and always striving to be a little better than before. It is keeping your word, and not giving it if you believe you cannot. It is always doing the right thing, even if that means less for you. It is consistent kindness and compassion to all, regardless of differences in race, culture, or creed.

Chivalry is the way you treat others. Your comportment or outward behavior, and the respect you give those around you, often by adhering to your honor regardless of setting or circumstance. It is empathy and understanding of the human condition, and recognizing that we are all experiencing the same pains, fears and difficulties. And then, being willing to help one's fellow human on their journey.

In essence, honor and chivalry come together in my mind as the idealized Arthurian knight. Lancelot, Galahad, Arthur himself, steadfast in one's adherence to the code, always seeking to do better at each turn, and that is what we should all strive for in our daily lives.

- In Honor and Chivalry

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