[DFT] Fw: [ChivalryToday] Chivalry in the Mirror
seanan at elfsea.net
Sat Sep 6 10:53:28 PDT 2003
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Chivalry in the Rear View Mirror
By Scott Farrell
©2003 Shining Armor Enterprises
Having recently returned from a cross-country road trip, I've had a
great deal of time in the past few weeks to contemplate the many facets
of the Code of Chivalry. With miles of interstate highway and dozens of
state lines rolling past, one situation occurred over and over again
that brought to mind the Knightly Virtue of justice.
So, join me in the car for a moment, won't you? It's a circumstance
we've all been in: You are driving along on the freeway, humming to a
tune on the radio and admiring the scenery in an absent-minded way. You
pass a bridge and a freeway on-ramp, and a few seconds later you glance
in the rearview mirror and notice a distinctive two-tone car with an
odd contraption attached to the roof; it's entering the freeway behind
you and accelerating rapidly. From a distance, it looks like a police
The question is: What's your reaction?
Do you automatically ease off the gas pedal? Do you tap the brakes? Do
you gently engage your parking brake just a bit to avoid a tell-tale
flash of brake lights? (No, you're not the only one who has thought of
that trick.) Do you make a lane change to the right in a manner that
you hope appears nonchalant?
Or, do you just keep driving?
There are an awful lot of motorists whose primary focus on the highway
is looking out for patrol cars, radar guns and law enforcement air
units. Yet few seem to see the irony in spending so much energy
avoiding getting caught breaking the law, while giving almost no
concern whatsoever to obeying the law. Wouldn't it be easier (not to
mention more relaxing) to simply drive within the speed limit?
Justice, as an element of the Code of Chivalry, means more than simply
expecting other people to behave in a just, respectful and lawful
manner. It means being willing to conduct yourself in a manner that is
courteous, principled and judicious at all times, regardless of who is
looking over your shoulder or driving behind you on the freeway.
Justice means holding yourself to the highest standard of exemplary
behavior, not the minimum that you can get away with.
Traffic laws are inconvenient. The roadways would be much more
convenient if each of us could go as fast as we wanted to, ignore stop
signs and traffic lights, cut off other drivers and park anywhere we
Similarly, the Code of Chivalry is inconvenient. Life would be much
more convenient if we could intimidate other people, tell lies, take
credit for the achievements of others and steal anything we wanted.
But traffic laws and chivalry aren't about convenience. Their purpose
is to create an environment that's pleasant, predictable and safe in
circumstances that would otherwise be frightening, chaotic and
So, as you're driving down the highway of life and you suddenly realize
you're under the scrutiny of someone you admire, someone whose opinion
you value, or someone to whom you must answer, how do you respond? Do
you alter your course, slow your progress or try to conceal your
actions? Or do you just continue without changing a thing?
Perhaps the best measure of justice and chivalry is the knowledge that
no matter what you see in your rearview mirror, you'll never feel
compelled to tap your brake pedal.
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Readers are permitted and encouraged to share this article with
friends, family and co-workers as a way of furthering the understanding
of the Code of Chivalry to the modern world. Scott Farrell's seminars
on chivalry and the knightly virtues are available to businesses,
schools and civic organizations throughout the Southern California
area; more information can be found on our website. Please include all
copyright statements and attributions when sharing Chivalry Today
articles. Copyright 2003 Scott Farrell and Shining Armor Enterprises.
Visit our website at www.ChivalryToday.com .
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