by Dean Joseph Jacques
in the late 1970s to the mid-80s, I worked as a case manager
and lead technician for the Connecticut Department of Social Services.
For the remainder of my career, I worked for various municipalities
to administer local services. For the most part, the programs I
facilitated assisted people with procuring food, shelter and medical
assistance. During that time I dealt with the problems of thousands
of people first hand.
Listening to their stories, I came to the conclusion
early on that the problems most people suffer from are self-made
or at least self-maintained. They reflected the choices people make
that often leave them vulnerable. Dropping out of school, for instance.
Irresponsibility at the workplace. Alcohol or drug abuse. A poor
choice of spouse. Having children before they are ready to support
them. Dangerous lifestyles. Mistreating people. Waiting until problems
turn into crisis before seeking help. Not planning for future needs.
Responding to the unfairness of life with anger instead of well-considered
choices. Whatever sorry lessons they learned in life, no matter
how dysfunctional, they remained unquestioned. Their mistakes would
continue and hurt those they love.
I mention these causes not to point blame at
victims of poverty and misfortune. The reasons these problems exist
are many and complicated, and can often be traced to outside sources.
I am pointing to causal actions that might be avoided if our culture
did a better job at teaching the skills and values that people need.
Food stamps and housing assistance only go so far, and may actually
contribute to their dependencies in the long run.
The purpose of culture, throughout history, has
been to nurture expectations of value and behavior in a given society
that seem beneficial, from one generation to another. Unfortunately,
western culture no longer considers that. For too long has been
distracted by its own economic and technological successes.
Can we repair this situation in order to bring
out the best in everyone?
The fixtures of culture do not come with simplified
directions, easy to repair. Dealing with societal needs and human
behavior, it is organic in nature. It varies regionally, and sometimes
within one's very own household. No detached government agency can
repair something as complicated as cultural influences and expect
good results. It has to heal organically from the people themselves.
Looking to the past for guidance, we find that
western culture enjoyed an inspiring code of values and behaviors
that not only greatly improved social expectations, but still tugs
at the heartstrings of people even today. It was called chivalry,
and had a strong influence in developing western concepts of justice,
courtesy, personal honor, gentlemanly behavior, romantic love, and
a whole variety of attributes that we still value.
The question that then arose was simple. What
would chivalry be like today if it had managed to survive and evolve
over the centuries? The answer was obvious. It would uphold its
core principles with an expanded depth of understanding. It would
have incorporated wisdom from the Age of Enlightenment, modern
philosophy and psychology, and the natural sciences, while respecting
insights from the distant past, even from the start of western civilization.
Such a code would provide just the cultural remedy
that we need.
A lot of study and online discussions eventually
led to the creation of the International Fellowship of Chivalry-Now,
a website rich in contant, an open forum where members meet and
share ideas, two published books and a growing presence in social
It would be misleading to suggest that we invented Chivalry-Now. In many respects, this philosophy owns a long
and honorable pedigree to which we are all indebted. We are its
latest admirers and enthusiasts, inspired by its elegant simplicity.
We appreciate how it expresses ideals that are already inside us
ideals that define the very best of who we are and lead us
to deeper understanding. As many readers have acknowledged, Chivalry-Now
expresses who we are when we are most authentic. It provides the
path, or quest as we call it, that leads to to a richer,
The mission of the IFCN as a group of
committed members is to place these values on their original trajectory.
Our goal is to unite people through a commonality of values basic
to who we are, without regard to race or religious beliefs. We invite
you to participate by joining us on this quest for truth, and assisting
others to do the same.
That our motives never be suspect, we state upfront
that we ask for no money and hold no hidden agendas or political
alliance. The members of our fellowship are completely autonomous
and lend their support on a voluntary basis.