Thursday, June 26, 2008

I am shamed: An open confession

There is no easy way to do this, but it must be done. I have broken my vows, and the first step to amends is to air my transgressions and motivate myself to not allow it to happen again.

I should explain before I go further. When I was in college, I was in the Society for Creative Anachronism. This is the world's largest medieval reenactment organization, and it is highly organized into kingdoms, baronies, and so forth.

As befits medieval reenactors with that kind of organization and scale, the Society has titular kings, lords of various grades... and knights.

I confess, I dearly wished to earn knighthood in the Society when I was still active, but it takes years of participation and dedication, years that I didn't have. Partly I wanted it for the sheer, nerdy glory and fun of it, but it was also partly because my temperament is such that it needs a restraint upon it that I care about, and I felt that the vows of knighthood would be just such a one.

As I said, I never earned the authority and responsibility of a knighthood, but as I knew the time when I would have to move away, too far away to feasibly participate any longer, was drawing near, I took the vows regardless, not bound to any lord or king, because none knighted me, but binding myself to the virtues of knighthood, as a safeguard against the fouler side of my temper.

The vows are many, but at their essence, they are outlined in this, the statement made by a knight before he is invested:

I swore to "ever be a good knight and true, reverent and generous, shield of the weak, obedient to my liege-lord (which I interpret as loyalty to my country and my vows, since I swore to no lord), foremost in battle, courteous and truthful at all times, champion of the right and the good."

I do my best, but I have of late failed and failed miserably at one: Courtesy. After a hard and frustrating day at work, I allowed my temper to gain the better of me and, without provocation, flamed a non-native English speaker for his poor spelling. I was mortified afterward, but pride motivated me to keep my silence for a time.

No more. I have made amends to him and obtained his forgiveness, but I have thought long and hard on it and realized that if I do not make a stand with myself, give a motivator to stop it here and now, I will continue to slide, and eventually what I promised to myself will mean nothing to me. I know of no better way than to write an account of my failure and place it up as a reminder that I expect better of myself, and shall keep a level head.

At the end of a knighting ceremony in the Society, it is traditional for the king to strike the new knight hard upon the chest after he has risen a knight, and to tell him to let the blow remind him that knighthood will bring him pain as well as honor. It has brought me pain these last two weeks, and I hope to return to honor. It may seem silly to people reading this, but this is important to me; I must reestablish shamefastness, the fear of shame, to keep myself from straying like that again. I renew my vow, and go forward with the virtues of chivalry at the forefront of my mind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was impressed to see that you wrote that. I am sure it made you feel better.
I respect you.