(Disclaimer: This is a fairy tale. I will write about modern equivalents in later posts, lest anyone think I'm advocating a return to the 1950's.)
Once upon a time, in a land not so very far away, on a bright and sunny day, a young knight, dressed in shining armor, rode proudly on his first crusade, when he came upon an old and withered, white-bearded man, the man dressed all in worn animal hides and sitting on a large boulder at the foot of an enormous, ancient tree.
The old man beckoned to the young knight to join him for a rest and drink of water, to which the young knight agreed.
Dismounting his fine steed, the knight loosened his armor that he might sit on another boulder near the old man, who spoke, "I see you are a noble knight of the realm, and I venture a guess that you are riding on a crusade."
The young knight accepted a tin cup of water from the old man, "Yes! I have just come from the town of Broadshire, where we arrested and burned at the stake several witches. And I now ride to join my brothers at Deepmoore, where a fine battle is to take place, ensuring the bloody defeat of a peasant uprising against their Sovereign!"
To which the old man simply sighed, and shook his head wearily, taking a drink of water himself.
Concerned at the old man's lack of enthusiasm for the battle to come, the knight said: "I believe it may take a knight to understand the knight's quest, and you, an old man by the road, can not know of such glories!"
The old man smiled, "I am a knight and have been since I was a man younger than you."
"But your clothes! And your attitude toward the nobility of cause."
"Which is?" The old man asked.
"Why, the upholding of the Church, the gentry and the Code!"
The old man smiled, "My son, my brother, you are mistaken. An ancient code of conduct has been replaced with politics, nothing more. You see, the true ancient code of knighthood was created to serve one purpose only: the safeguarding of the feminine in all things. As pagans, we knew that the feminine was the life force that held all creation together; to harm, or allow the feminine to be harmed, was to harm life itself, of which we as men, were irreducibly a part. But the true knight did not seek to possess, or control, or disempower the feminine, but to clear the path for it to thrive. So we made safe the world for all women, and the earth, and all children so they could live fully, freely, independently, if that be their choice, thus enhancing all life everywhere. And as any form of attack does violence to the feminine in all things, we ancient knights knew that war and battle were not tests of courage, or nobility, but failures of the masculine. We saw nobility in inner strength, not outer, though we were well-trained in the art of protection. To be the peacemaker and the peacekeeper was our greatest triumph. We saw integrity, honor, selflessness, honesty, responsibility, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and purpose as the highest forms of nobility and masculinity to aspire toward. And if a battle came to us, fight it we did, but without relish, and afterwards we sat about in a circle around the fire, and ask of ourselves as men: where had we failed, that we had allowed such a calamity to come to pass. Because the true warrior never has to fight."
The young knight just laughed as he handed back the empty cup and mounted his horse, looking down at the old man, "You've sat too long under a tree, I think, to remember the ways of the world! But I thank you for the drink, and a good story. Glad tidings to you!"
"And to you," replied the old man with a sly grin, watching the young knight ride off to his destiny.
And then the old man said to himself: "I do remember the ways of the world, brother. And I sit here, patiently, waiting for them to return."