This I Believe

Cody - Irmo, South Carolina
Entered on February 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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For Me, Chivalry Lives

Before another day of high school marching band practice, I watched the colorgaurd lug their equipment onto the field. Rather than idly wait in the heat for practice to begin, I decided to lend a hand. Worried I would make a fool of myself, I approached the struggling dancers and offered to help carry their props. I was taken aback when they thanked me enthusiastically and expressed how appreciated they felt. I continued to offer my assistance for the rest of the season, endeavoring to offer reliable service. With each practice, I rediscovered the profound message of these small acts of service: I care about you.

Acts of chivalry like this were not always part of me. During childhood, I cared little about my relationships with my peers, preferring the warm companionship of my family. With six children, there was plenty of love to go around, even when my father left. I labored to show my love for my family and slowly I began to comprehend that others appreciate service just as much.

Despite this consideration for my peers, I had not yet realized how paramount chivalry is. After moving to the Carolinas in my pre-teens and given a fresh start in the land of “Southern Hospitality”, I was eager, even desperate, to establish a good reputation. I shunned opportunities for attention through hurtful actions, thinking myself above such mischief. With so many ways to tease or make fun of people, I set out to the arduous calling of finding ways to help.

After years of offering service, I know that chivalry goes beyond getting attention. We encounter inconveniences everyday, and are often overwhelmed by these petty difficulties. In meeting these needs, I strive to show that I will be there to help you through these difficulties, and you can count on me. Being a gentleman goes beyond these trifling deeds and conveys a complete attitude of respect and generosity.

In light of all this, I have been concerned by those who would rather ignore chivalry. They say chivalry is a thing of the middle ages, and has died in these times of equality. Still others charge my actions are against a standard of “manliness.” I have nevertheless found chivalry to be unfailingly worth it. I have been given too much to withhold what I might give for ideals. In these times of corporate unreliability and celebrity scandal, I must do what I can for society.

Chivalry is an indispensable characteristic. It may no longer be considered rude not to be a gentleman, but at times everyone needs to know someone cares. Even a small action of mine can send powerful messages. Not only has chivalry gained me attention and self-esteem, but I have also helped out my society. I need to be chivalrous just as I need companionship, for the two are not so different.