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What is a Knight?

The term was easily defined a thousand years ago. Knighthood was a recognized caste of titled, elite warriors subject to certain responsibilities and expectations.
    Today, the idea of knighthood has branched out in several directions. Where royalty still exists, it has become an honorarium of distinct recognition for service or achievement. As a remnant from earlier times, the title can sometimes be inherited through bloodline as well.
    There are religious or civic organizations whose members move up through the hierarchy and achieve the title of knight. Medieval reenactment groups, like the Society for Creative Anachronism, offer knighthood as an earned title in their " aristocracy."
    There are also clubs, merchants and web sites that make the title accessible either through membership or for a price.
    Star Wars introduced the concept of the Jedi Knight, a science fiction version of the mystic warrior, a combination of knight, samurai, Kung-fu master and intergalactic policeman. The idea immediately captured popular attention, to the point where Jedi-based groups sprang up on the Internet to recreate a new idealism. Such is the cultural hunger waiting to be fed.
    The one thing that all these venues have in common is the strong attraction to knighthood and chivalry, for men especially. Both the title and the rite-of-passage it represents a core need that today's society no longer meets, despite its technological wealth and myriad distractions..
    What is that need?
    It focuses on self-identity. Generally speaking, men inherently need to be recognized as people of value and accomplishment by their community. The title of knight provides just this kind of recognition. In most cultures, and throughout history, the passage from boy-to-man meant more than just a matter of age and physical development. It meant earning the status of being a "man," someone who represents the very best values of one's community.
    While this suggests that morality is something bequeathed by one's culture, there is another way to perceive it. The ideals might very well be innate. If that is so, the culture's responsibility is to nourish and direct their development.
    If the ideals are innate, that would explain the subliminal connection we feel, even when the culture fails to recognize them, and our lives run in different directions.
    Basically, when we allow ourselves to feel it, we have individual and cultural needs to take our place as responsible, capable people. Knighthood encapsulates this idea, offering both a code and an example of what it means. It honors and shapes our warrior spirit in positive directions, and provides a title that carries obligations of commitment. What else do we have that systematically performs this function?
    With all this in mind, today's knight should be someone who carries specific purpose and meaning in life, that extends itself to the well-being of others.
    Some of the variations of knighthood, previously mentioned, represent such people. Others do not. The question we face is what knighthood means to our fellowship of Chivalry-Now.
    Chivalry-Now honors an updated code of chivalry designed to guide and nurture fundamental ideals that most of us have already. One of its most important concepts has to do with freedom. Today's knight must be a product of his own expectations, not someone else's. While he may serve the welfare of others, he is not their slave. He sees the world as it is, rather than catering to illusion. His beliefs are tried and true. He replaces stale thoughts with fresh thinking, and looks upon life as a serious quest for truth and goodness.
    He is no lacky of consumerism.
    The Knight of Chivalry-Now is familiar with the concepts and ideals of Chivalry-Now, both general and esoteric. As an active member of the Companionship, tested and approved, enough is known about him to be formally sponsored by Knights of the Council.
    Once declared a Knight-Errant, he is respected as an autonomous member of the Council of Knights. He bows to no one, but willingly listens to and advises all.
    His purpose is to respond to life as life presents itself. He morally responds. He acts. He speaks out. He is courteous but truthful to everyone. He presents an appropriate image of knighthood, that others might be inspired by his integrity.
    The Knight of Chivalry-Now is a warrior in spirit and in deed. He fights for good causes and protects those who cannot defend themselves. He is open to learning and is not blinded by his own opinions. He is a good parent, spouse, friend and citizen.
   Knighthood is a title of honor to be cherished. It is challenging, something to protect and not bequeathed lightly. The candidate must be a self-liberated soul, dedicated to truth, compassionate toward others and loyal to his Companions. He knows that his connection to chivalry is permanent from the day of his accolade to the day he dies. No matter how alone he becomes, be he the last one of his kind, he remains true to his code.
   
The Knight of Chivalry-Now is a new creature, the product of a second birth in which his soul becomes master of his being.
   
No one can purchase this title. He either earns it and lives it, or he does not.

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