Chivalry and the bush.
The question of chivalry or more correctly the demise of it got me thinking on my last trip to Sydney. I wonder what King Arthur would make of our world where he alive today. Looking down from the lofty parapets of Camelot, would he weep or take note of those who continue to uphold the vestiges of a lost age and applaud them. I’m talking of things such as politeness and thoughtfulness and those now rarely seen attributes that evolved from medieval history.
You see it daily. Men pushing in front of women to enter or exit lifts or elevators, not standing for the elderly or heavily pregnant women and so it goes on (Forget standing for a woman at all on public transport, those days appear long gone). In some ways I’m not surprised. What’s a man supposed to think in this age of woman. Let’s face it us gals can push as well as the next person if we want to be first out the door. And isn’t that what some of us are saying? Well it is in fact, based on a piece of media that was doing the rounds recently when a man politely stood aside for a woman to exit a lift only to be brusquely told that such manners were not required by her.
Women are raising their voices loudly and rightly so, and men, spectacularly those in power positions, are being held accountable for past actions. A women’s need to be heard and respected, to be treated fairly and equally should be a fundamental right, but do most of us want strong-arm feminism? It’s a fine line. Push hard and be damned for fighting for our rights or meander along, occasionally waving our flag hoping to be noticed.
Which brings us back to chivalry and that poor bloke left standing in the lift. I’m thinking he won’t bother being polite again which rather puts him in a fix if he strikes someone like me. I grew up on a cattle and sheep property in a family where seats are pulled out for women and car doors opened and closed. During my time working in the stock-yards and out in the paddock I found that most stockmen – admittedly mainly the over forties crowd, will still stand back for a woman to pass through a gate in the cattle-yards first, if not they will at least hold it open after they’ve gone through. Which just goes to show that you can be treated equally in the workplace and be shown respect at the same time. When did the lines become so blurred. That’s only one example but it’s quite possible that the last bastions of chivalry are still alive within pockets of rural Australia.
Some of us call such behaviour old-fashioned, but the lack of simple manners which all of us are witness to every day is endemic in our push and shove society. Common courtesy is the refrain my mother uses and she’s right. There’s not much of it left. It’s a lack of respect that goes beyond grown men and women and that scene in the lift. There’s confusion and anger on the streets and it’s seeping into everyday life, flowing into our young people, across social media and onto future generations.
King Arthur’s Knights were looked upon as honorable men. They were portrayed as honest and loyal and expected to uphold the values of the Church, defend the king, his land and his people, and be courteous to the ladies. No doubt there’s not many of them left, they’re either of advanced age or slowly being deprived of oxygen like exotic butterflies in a jar. But they’re not quite a dying breed. If someone opens a door for you, say thankyou. What’s the harm in seeing a glimpse of a kinder, gentler place. Let’s try not to trample the last vestiges of gallantry. It will be a poorer world without it.