Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Code of Chivalry: Despise Pecuniary Reward, Persevere to the End

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Now and forever. Amen.

Good Sunday morning, to you! And what a beautiful day it is, too! I hope, dear reader, that you are doing well.

Today, I'm going to skip a rule, rule six, because I want to save that one for last. Instead, I'm going to talk about rules seven and fourteen: to despise pecuniary reward and to persevere to the end in any enterprise begun. I'm going to call these the working rules, though they don't pertain exclusively to work.

Despise Pecuniary Reward

Now, you might be wondering: "what the heck does pecuniary mean?" It's a strange word, I know. It actually means "relating to money." So, this rule is all about money: despise monetary reward. And in today's world, pretty much anyone who sees this rule will think it's a strange one. Let's face it, we might be able to understand it, if it was stated less strongly. Perhaps, "don't do stuff just for money." But that's not what it says. It uses the word despise, which implies a disgust for, or a strong dislike.

So, what's the big idea here? Are we talking about trade? Being paid for goods or services rendered? Well, let's get one thing straight, the knight was someone who could afford a horse, first of all, so they had to have money to do that, and secondly a Knight was a member of the Nobility, owning a Manor, with land and employees, and so on. They were the lowest class of the Nobility, but they were still Nobility, and that meant that they had money. And it would be foolish to think that a knight would do everything for free, because doing so would put his family, and all those who worked on his estate, into a position of poverty.

So that can't be what we're talking about here. However, a certain disinterest in money has to be remembered, because the knight ought not to be greedy. But that's only part of this. The key to understanding this rule is in the word "reward." In trade, what you receive is typically not a "reward." Money is merely a medium of exchange. By reward, we may consider two likelihoods.

The first is that of bribery, and this relates to avoiding greed. Bribery is typically a political action, and if you've sworn an oath of loyalty to your Liege Lord, your political situation is pretty well understood. The strong motivating reason you'd accept a bribe, and therefore violate your oath, is money. The good Knight should resist the pull of money, and remove such temptations; make it clear to anyone who's looking that you're not the kind of man who can be bought off.

The second is that of warfare. Let's face it, for all the responsibilities that come with nobility, the fundamental profession of the knight is warfare. In war, one's first earthly duty is to his sovereign; for King and country. Secondly it is to his brothers-in-arms, and thirdly to his family, that they may be safe from invading armies.

In this endeavor, the knight should despise pecuniary reward. Why?

Consider: what is a knight's service in war worth? In fact, it was through this service that knights were initially raised to Nobility. But, if you were to put a dollar figure to this service, what would it be? If you paid little, the implication is that their lives are worth little, and nobody would go to war. If you paid much, then very many people would go to war. Either way, the motivating factor for the knight considering warfare is money, and that's the wrong reason to go to war.

If you're facing down an army, and you're greatly outnumbered, and you're really just there because you're going to get a hefty paycheck at the end of it, you're probably going to turn and run the other way, because at the end of the day, your life means more to you than money ever will. But, if you're there to serve your country and king, to make good on the oaths of loyalty you've sworn as a man, and if you're there for your comrades, your brothers fighting with you, and if you're there as a matter of protecting your family, then there's no way on earth you're going to turn tail and run. You're going to fight to your dying breath. That's why you despise pecuniary reward, because greed gets you killed, it gets your comrades killed, and it will cause the destruction of your nation. And this leads nicely into the next section.

Persevere to the End

An enterprise may be the enterprise of war, or some business venture, or any project really, where initiative, risk and boldness are required. Notice that there are two words used here to show the scope of this rule: "begun" and "end." The scope is from beginning to end, all of it. If you start something, you better finish it, even if finishing it is difficult, even severely so, hence the word "persevere." It's understood that things will be difficult. That's absolutely true for a knight who goes to war. Don't turn and run. You came to war for a reason, see that reason through. Remain true to the choices you make.

And isn't this a true rule for success in anything we do? If you want to lose weight, and you begin a workout program, you're only going to be successful if you persevere to the end, even when you can't walk for three days because your muscles are just not used to that kind of stress. If you want to build a house, you're only going to be successful if you actually complete it, even if you run out of money half-way through, or winter comes two months early. If you want to change law, you don't give up half way because people start to slander you in the newspaper, and you wake up one morning with a burning effigy on your front lawn. In any enterprise you begin, see it through to the end, and wherever obstacles rise before you along the way, you must dig deep, and find creative solutions to make your vision a reality.

But, an important part of this rule is this word "end." It doesn't just define the scope of your effort, it also gives you a target upon which to set your sights. That means that the end of your effort has to be clearly defined. Returning to our weight loss example, if you decide to go to the gym, and all you've defined your goal as being is "lose weight," you're not going to be successful. If you define your goal as, "to reduce my belly measurement by five inches," you're going to have a much greater chance for success because now you have something to measure, and you may also narrow your exercises to only those that help in accomplishing this goal. A clear target narrows your focus, which will be easier to keep.

And this rule does not just help you to be successful, it also helps strengthen your relationships. It adds to your trustworthiness. If you accomplish what you set out to do, even through immense difficulty, then I can trust you when you say you're going to do something, anything. I can rely on you. But if you don't, if you give up when things get hard, or you're constantly jumping from one thing to another, even several times in a single year, then how can I believe that you're going to see this thing through? I can't, and so I don't rely on you, I don't trust you.

Have you noticed how central relationships are to these rules?

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