Knight - A View on Politics
The genius of
a democratic-republic is twofold.
components allow citizens direct influence over their government
through the electoral process.
structure of representative government provides safeguards from
the capriciousness of popular opinion. It anticipates the election
of quality people in leadership roles our brightest minds,
disciplined in temperament, well-versed in the art of statesmanship,
and immune, on the peoples behalf, from the lure of self-interest.
makes really good sense. Unfortunately, people at every level seem
too distracted by human weakness. While we should all want our government
to work at optimal proficiency, we fail to make it so.
Who is to blame
for these failures? Partisans instantly point to the other side,
ignoring their own contributions. It was George Washington who
warned us, in his Circular Letter of 1783, that if the citizens
[of the United States] should not be completely free and happy,
the fault will be completely their own. This is true
of any modern nation in which the people play a contributory role.
todays politics, we should stop now and then and consider
if Washington was right. Are we are the ones at fault? As
citizens, how do we absolve ourselves from the responsibility of
our citizen government, when we are the ones who fail to partake
in it properly? Dare we hide behind the excuse that our votes and
voices (or lack thereof) are too inconsequential to make a difference?
Or does responsibility lie, as logic would indicate, on those who
either ignore what is going on, or complain incessantly while doing
nothing to improve the situation?
The system has
to fail democratically when the voice of the people does not assert
itself properly by which I mean in a morally honest, intelligent
and positive manner. This failure can be traced to deceptive leaders
pulling citizens astray, the blind influence of ideology and partisanship,
and the withdrawal that comes from people who are just not interested.
educated, free-thinking citizens, democracy becomes narcissistically
all form and no substance. The collective benefit of diverse wisdom
is replaced by political showmanship, rooted in special interests
and personal ambition. Honesty, intelligence and dedication to the
intricacies of government are no longer considered prerequisites
for serious candidates. They are chosen instead by the adherence
to ideological formulas and by vehement animosity toward the opposition.
What is missing
is the kind of inspirational vision that elevates government to
perform its much needed function: which is protecting the rights
and freedom of individual citizens in their pursuit of happiness,
promote the general welfare so that the pursuit is available to
all, provide for justice, and national defense.
With this in
mind, it is important to understand that the greatest poisons
to democracy are ignorance, the lack of interest of a disengaged
votary, and the willful spread of false information, be it from
political strategies or media personalities. Reliable truth is vital
to citizen participation.
poison to republicanism is the ineptitude and corruption of
its representatives. The American founders envisioned leaders very
much like themselves, visionaries who honored truth and justice,
and served their nation not for personal profit, but for the advancement
of the human condition. They anticipated representatives of intelligence,
good will and noble qualities. Why would anyone vote for less?
fails when leaders of unworthy qualities or intent cripple the system
with corruption, personal ambition, and extreme partisanship. Under
such circumstances, the workings of government simply cannot function
as they should. Issues give way to partisan strategies. Winning
replaces national concerns. When this happens, the very ideals that
we depend upon become distorted beyond recognition.
When the people
become disengaged or misled by media propagandists, when representatives
become exploitive caricatures of what they should be, it takes far
more than a Constitution to repair the damage. The culture, both
inside and outside of politics, must reclaim its philosophical depth.
This can only happen when everyday people generate the dedicated
enthusiasm of the genuinely enlightened patriot, from whom constructive
futures are built. Yes, the system counts. But it does not work
unless the people are properly engaged.
Knight can contribute to this process. Modern chivalry maintains
a virtual treasure trove of the philosophical depth we need to recover
our cultural ideals. It reflects a moral ethic of honor and commitment,
and advocating for what is right and just. It understands personal
sacrifice for the sake of others, and naturally resists the dictatorship
of greed, be it personal or corporate. It rejuvenates those who
are discouraged by activating a new enthusiasm of conscience. It
starts with the call to develop ones life for the greater
good, which contributes to the making of solid democratic citizens
and republican leaders.
As a living
embodiment of chivalry, todays Knight is called to provide
an example of an incorruptible advocate for truth, who instills
in others a respect for truth, which then inspires cultural expectations
for the same. He or she will be an embodiment of courtesy in thought,
word and deed. The heroes who stand out will be worthy of their
recognition, admirable, refined, trustworthy.
As the culture
improves, the press will accommodate their demands for more fact
and less bias. Politicians will adjust to a higher quality of popular
opinion. Extremism will lose its attraction. The destructive ideologies
of today will crumble
A cultural swing
that incorporates a new depth of virtue is capable of healing all
wounds, clears the path to new solutions, instills harmony, disarms
enemies and makes new friends. Human potential gets back on track,
and with it the approach of our greater destiny.
Once in place,
the improvements of domestic life will be so noticeable, so attractive,
that it will the draw the whole world to do likewise thereby
introducing a new age of peace and understanding.
thought, some might conclude, but too naive to be taken
present goals that are difficult or impossible to attain. The down-to-earth
benefit is in trying. But what is the alternative? Accept things
the way they are? Sit back as the conscience of humanity becomes
more and more incognizant to its own failure to act? Excuse ourselves
by saying that one person cannot make a difference?
The image of
todays Knight suggests otherwise. It tells us that virtues
only exist when we bring them to life in the way we live. It defines
hero as someone authentic, built from his or her own initiative.
We can do that.
But then, perhaps
our most debilitating fear is knowing that we can make a difference,
but to do so means deviating from the crowd, stepping out of our
comfort zone, accepting the responsibilities that life gives us
as thinking, feeling creatures. Isnt such initiative what
heroism is all about?
If you are tired
of your inner confusion, tired of a world where politics is never
what it should be, tired of watching humanity plagued by violence
and poverty and ideological conflict, then consider the possibility
of Knighthood. All it takes is responding to the call that is within
you already, the call for authentic living. Once you say yes, the
door opens and the way made clear for your own personal quest.