This I Believe

Eric - Hampton, Virginia
Entered on June 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humility, respect
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I believe in chivalry because of the values it instills. In today’s society, driven by women’s rights and equality, most people think that chivalry is dead. I vehemently disagree. I believe that it isn’t dead; it is merely suffering a drought. This is so because the definition of chivalry has evolved to include man and woman, yet most people don’t realize it.

More often than not, when I show politeness, people think that I have ulterior motives. I went to a party my freshman year and saw a girl that I had a class with. I told her that she looked good. She shot a cold glance at me then walked away. Is it any wonder why the courtesies of yesteryear have been replaced with a “why bother?” attitude?

I pride myself on being a gentleman, in spite of the fact that the majority of my good deeds either go unnoticed or unappreciated. I hold doors open for women and receive silence as a reward. Yet the response I elicit when I offer to pay for something is a polar opposite. Because of this, when similar situations arise, I tend to think twice before I go out of my way to do something.

While I detest the rude behavior that I’ve gotten in return, I still abide by my version of the code of chivalry. I exude nobility by being the same person in public that I am in private. The Eric that uses big words and is goofy around his friends is the same Eric that my parents know at home.

I am extremely loyal to my loved ones, sometimes to a fault. My best friend and I are at two totally different stages in our lives. I have a decent job and in my final year of college. My friend works at a chicken joint and hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom since high school. Though my father constantly cautions me to not be dragged down by him, I can’t bring myself to alter things; I’ve known him since second grade.

In the same way that knights were just and merciful, I try not to bend rules or antagonize those who choose to do so. I have a cousin who has been arrested, multiple times, for distributing narcotics. While I would never follow suit, I have forgiven him and see him for the man he is and could be.

Also, I am a decent example of generosity and humility. I often pick up the tab for a friend who is short on cash, but I would never embarrass anyone by talking about it in front of others.

To me chivalry is defined as the qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women. In today’s society this definition is skewed, meaning that ‘women’ is replaced with ‘everyone.’ I am living proof that chivalry, though on shaky legs, is still alive.