Chivalry——What kind of images does this word bring to mind? Fair ladies and noble knights? A world of opulence where men protected and cherished their women? Perhaps even an outlaw that refused to harm or disrespect women. Why is that? Why, when we think of chivalry do we think of the past? Is chivalry really only a thing of our past or is it still around, perhaps hidden in some dark corner, waiting to be called forth? Of course, I’d like to think it’s the latter. Just knowing there are still chivalrous men (and women) out there would certainly be satisfying. But looking around it is hard to be so optimistic. For example, let’s go to the mall. You’re walking in and a group of guys is walking out. Over 90% of the time, not a single one of those guys will hold the door for you. It’s such a simple thing, you keep your hand on the door an extra ten seconds and you make someone’s day. But so few people will do it! Try it yourself. Hold the door for someone and watch the surprise on their face. Does holding the door for someone count as chivalry? In this day and age, where common courtesy is quickly disappearing, I’d say it does.
So now let’s take a drive and get on the highway. Uh-oh…the back tire just blew! Now you are stranded on the side of the road, cars flying by, no one stopping. Maybe one or two cars will tap on their brakes then they seem to think better of it and speed on by. Now, ok, I understand if you are a woman and the guy standing out there by his vehicle is not exactly savory looking, I don’t think I would stop in the situation either. Sad isn’t it when sometimes we can’t help others because it’s a threat to our own safety? What a society we live in! But how many can say they even slowed down enough to see who it was or what the trouble was? How would you feel if you knew your grandmother was stranded out on the highway, unable to change her tire and no one was stopping to help her? Is helping out someone in need chivalrous? Oh yeah!
Now that we got off that highway, (now the car looks hilarious with the donut tire!) let’s head for the library. Along comes a librarian, trying to make some sense of the books left discarded up and down the aisles because the last patron was too lazy to put them back where they belonged. She’s accumulated quite a stack of books in her arms and it’s obvious that she is having a bit of troubling balancing them all. How many of you would offer to help her? Hold the books for her while she figured out where they went? Isn’t it sad to think how many people would simply slip on over to the next aisle?
Which of course leads to another very un-chivalrous action. Why is it so hard to put things back where they belong? Not just a book at a library but that shirt at the mall that you decided halfway through the store you didn’t want so you left it sitting on a stack of lip-gloss. You’re trying on shoes at the shoe-store and have to open six different boxes before you find a size that fits. Off you go to pay for your find but you left all those boxes and shoes in a disorganized mess. Really? You couldn’t find the time to put everything back together? Come on, people, consideration is chivalrous as well!
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…let us move on. Let us discuss another habit that we as a people seem to have developed that is certainly not chivalrous. Language. Just go anywhere! It doesn’t matter (ok, so I don’t recommend trying this out at a mime get together) listen to those around you and what they are saying. Within five minutes you’ll hear something unsavory. Whether it be just a crude comment, a vulgar expression or a curse word, people don’t think twice about the words coming off their tongue. Ever watch a good old movie where men let loose a curse and either get reprimanded or apologize to using such language before a lady? What on earth has happened to us! You hear foul language out of everyone these days, even children! And don’t try and say those words aren’t considered offensive anymore. If a movie still gets rated for it then society still views it as offensive. What has happened is no one cares if they offend anyone else.
And that thought leads to another. Ever notice how easy it is to make people angry? Now, I don’t think it was harder to make people angry in the days of chivalry but how people handled their anger was certainly different. Bump into someone by accident and they’ll fly off the handle at you because they now have a drip on their chin from the beverage they were drinking. Control yourself, people, self control and the ability to forgive are certainly chivalrous.
Okay, so I think I am about done preaching up here on my soapbox. I’ll just mention that humility is another quality that aids in rediscovering chivalry…as does not being too outspoken. With that…perhaps I should stop now and start doing my part to unearth chivalry again. Actions speak louder than words….an old adage that is certainly a good start toward chivalry.