Chivalry, Part One


Often, when people think of "meekness" or a "meek" person, some of the first things to come to mind are weakness, timidity of soul, or someone who's an obsequious milksop (like the Casper Milquetoast character of The Timid Soul comic strip).

But a meek person is not really like that at all. While he (or she) may, at times, behave mildly (even deferentially) to those around him, such a one is, first and foremost, a soul that possesses great strength and equanimity of spirit. By that I mean, he (or she) is yielded to God, and his strengths (both physically and emotionally) are either channeled generatively or sheathed (for future use) appropriately. In all things, a meek soul has been made dangerous for good.

In our English vernacular, many have tried, be it unsuccessfully, to supplant "meek" with other, less misunderstood terms like "gentle" or "humble." While a meek person is definitely humble; and, while he (or she) can also behave gently, he can also (and just as easily) behave quite "un-gently." For example, a meek person, when coming to the defense of a bullied friend or family member, may unleash a fury of protective acts that reduce said bully (or bullies) to a pile of wet dung. He may even accomplish these things without raising a hand. Humble? Yes. Gentle? No, not really.

In this post, I'd like to reintroduce a somewhat archaic word that may just be the perfect meek-surrogate: "chivalrous."

Chivalrous, adj. (from www.dictionary.com): Having the qualities of the ideal knight including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms; considerate of and courteous to women; gallant; gracious and honorable toward an enemy, especially a defeated one, and toward the week or poor.

Quite honestly, when I think of a meek or chivalrous person, I'm drawn immediately to Jesus, William Wallace (of Braveheart), and the knights of the Arthurian legends (like Sir Lancelot de Lac).

Next week, we'll look a little closer at the origins of chivalry and at some of the genuine qualities of a chivalrous person.

Until then, God's peace...

 

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