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The Virtues

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(Last revised: July 31, 2009)

THE VIRTUES

Over time my philosophy has evolved, starting out (and perhaps remaining) as a fairly nebulous, amorphous, general "nobility" that I strive for. It began when I was perhaps thirteen or fourteen years of age.

Early on, I considered Honesty to be among the highest, but also Balance. The latter is somewhat of a special case. I consider it to be a superset of Equity and Justice, but it also applies to all of the other virtues and most aspects of daily life. All things must be balanced against one another, and some things must be taken in moderation. All of these virtues at times may even need to be bent or broken, and this requires a balanced approach.

Loyalty, Wisdom, and Awareness are probably among the most recent to be spelled out here, and other virtues and concepts may yet be added as I decide on their explicit importance (beyond the general "be good" sort of theme this whole thing has).

My personal code has never really been spelled out explicitly before writing this page. It derives from a combination of Chivalry, personal experience, and positive role models from throughout my life. It is constantly evolving, and I with it. The Virtues below are more like categories of personal traits and conduct that I attempt to strive for. I promised myself, when I was in my teens, to lead a good and virtuous life. To attempt to be the best I can each day, and do a little better on the next day than the last.

Absence of detail in various sections below does not indicate a lack of thought, just simply that I have yet to find concise wording.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION - I'm still writing this and deciding on symbols, so nothing is written in stone... heck, my ideology has evolved over time anyway. It's all subject to change.

The Grail The image of the cup, or grail, is partiluarly symbolic, while not attached to a specific trait or virtue. Just as the knights of the Arthurian legends quested for the Holy Grail, we too, as responsible adults strive our entire lives towards our own betterment, and the benefit of the world around us. This quest of continual improvement towards the unnattainable goal of perfection yields its own rewards. It's the quest, or the journey, that matters most.


VIRTUES

Honesty, Truth TRUTH, Honesty

As the candle reveals truths from the darkness, we must all strive to illuminate truths through our honesty. Counterintuitively, one must be aware of how literal truths can mislead, and how truth can be served by misdirection at times.

Honesty is one of the highest of the virtuous traits, and is therefore first in the list. Honesty brings truth, which is necessary for knowledge. Knowledge is important for wisdom, progress, and every decision we make in our lives.

Truth extends beyond mere honesty however. The quest for truth, to find facts and dispel misinformation, is of extreme importance. Blind misconceptions can only be fought by agressively seeking the truth, and not accepting mere heresay.

Balance, Justice BALANCE, Justice, Fairness, Equity

Symbolized by the scales. Balance in all things. Everything in life contains it's own advantages and disadvantages. Indeed, all forms of fairness and justice can be seen as balance on a larger scale.
Unity UNITY of body, mind, and spirit

Like the infinite moebius strip, which is internally continuous, one must seek to be internally harmonious. Without a united body, spirit, and mind, one can easily be lost. But also, seeking unity with others in the form of community can be a great source of strength, for indviduals and groups alike can be greater than the sums of their parts.
Honor HONOR, Dignity, Responsibility

Symbolized by the sword, honor can be found in defending the weak, remaining true to one's word, standing for a worthy cause, and facing defeat with grace. Maintaining a high standard of moral conduct.
Courage COURAGE, Valor, to face fear, not fearlessness

Symbolized by the shield, courage protects us from succumbing to overriding fear. Like spiritual armor, it allows us to face danger and risk with strength and confidence.

Not a lack of fear, valor is the ability to do what must be done despite one's fears. To stand tall and face a challenge, to stand up for what is right despite what people may think of you, and to put aside personal interests to uphold what is right and good.

RESPECT, Courtesy

A knight should always be polite and mannerly, in speaking and conduct, even to those with whom one is angry, or in disagreement.
WISDOM, Forethought

Wisdom and accumulated experience guide our knowledge, and allow us to excersize forethought and intuition in our decision making. It enables us to recognize opportunities that might otherwise be missed, and seize the moment rather than squander it.
Loyalty LOYALTY, Faithfulness

Protecting, aiding, and serving friends and family who deserve your respect and service. A knight should never mistreat friends and family. Symbolized by the hourglass, for loyalty is nothing if it does not endure.
HUMILITY, tempered by balanced self-respect and confidence

One must always be honest and truthful about oneself. Refraining from self-destructiveness is as important as refraining from boastful behavior. It is important for the knight to seek and find his place in the world, and the role he plays within it. Bearing responsibility without complaint, yet accepting and identifying his own strengths and weaknesses so that he may continue to grow the former, and learn from the latter.
Awareness AWARENESS, Thoughtfulness

Symbolized by the eye, we must always be aware of our environment, and those around us. Awareness allows us to respond to danger and change, and provides a means to be thoughtful with regards to such, and to other people.
Compassion COMPASSION, Kindness

Compassion is the cornerstone of Chivalry. A knight who does not show caring and consideration for those around him is not a knight afterall. One must value the life, happiness, safety, and freedom of those around him at all times.
Generosity GENEROSITY, particularly by words or deeds

Symbolized by the open hand, generosity takes many forms. Largesse and charity are important for a knight. Generosity of thought, material, and action must be given when the situation calls for it.
NOBILITY, Honorable and Dignified

Although this word is sometimes confused with entitlement or snobbishness, in the code of chivalry it conveys the importance of upholding one's convictions and maintaining a sense of honor and dignity at all times, especially when no one else is watching.
FRANCHISE, Integrity, Presence

Practicing what you preach, living up to your own standards, embodying your own ideals as best you can. Presenting yourself with integrity and dignity, and maintaining grace.
After interacting with the folks from Chivalry-Now, I wish to also list here the "12 Trusts". While my list of virtues above is not as eloquantly written in terms of a personal promise, these 12 Trusts below are technically all covered within my own personal code. Each can be placed in a category above.

The 12 Trusts:

Upon my honor,

  1. I will develop my life for the greater good.
  2. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth.
  3. I will never boast, but cherish humility instead.
  4. I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word.
  5. I will defend those who cannot defend themselves.
  6. I will honor and respect women, and avoid sexism in all its guises.
  7. I will uphold justice by being fair to all.
  8. I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship.
  9. I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake nor delight in them.
  10. I will be generous to the poor and those who need help.
  11. I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven.
  12. I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.

By adhering to these 12 Trusts, I swear to partake in the living Quest in everything I do.

I'm also fond of "The Old Code" as depicted in the Dragonheart book and movie:

A knight is sworn to valor,
His heart knows only virtue,
His blade defends the helpless,
His might upholds the weak,
His word speaks only truth,
His wrath undoes the wicked.
While digging through a lot of old data, I found a text file with a timestamp dating back to 1993. The file might be older, as this could be when I downloaded it. I barely remember having seen it before. I suspect it's based on the philosophy portrayed in the Ultima computer games, since it has a very similar list of virtues, and uses the ankh as the main symbol (which I do as well, but had been doing so before ever playing one of the games).

You may find it to be an interesting read. It's called The Doctrine of Rectitude.

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