Among other things, when I was a kid I used to read of knights, and heroes and daring individuals fighting for the truth and the safety of their family against all manner of evil. We all knew who the hero was, and evil was depicted in a way which made identification fairly easy. These heroes had qualities which seem unheralded now: chivalry, honour and selflessness. They were people who would die for their community, or in defence of an idea without comment, tell the truth, or spend days weeping over falsehood and protect the weak and innocent without agenda or thought of personal profit. How cleansing the thought of such a person is.
Has anyone actually been anywhere near this paragon. I’ve no idea , but I’m not holding my breath. Even so, by historical standards, comparing ourselves to our fellow man rather than to some absolute sense of honour or chivalry seems to reflect the modern approach to morality. We are not necessarily better for it. Does it seem to you that our collective consciences, along with other redundant aspects of a former world, have drifted up the road for a sandwich and a lament over the good old days, and left us to our own devices. This may be an unsettling question, and I have no idea what the answer is myself, before you all rush to ask me.
There was a sense of honour which said, “I have done wrong so I will resign or fall on my sword”. It is some years since I have read of a politician resigning on a point of principle, or because he insists on taking the ultimate responsibility for a decision taken well down the food chain of his department. Now honour among politicians seems more to do with seeming to remain innocent until you are found out, or passing the guilt to someone else with the speed of light. The honour of holding your hand up to your own failings and errors is hard to spot among our public “servants”. where character seems to be defined by comparison with the man next to you instead of some absolute perfection recognised by a superior being.
It is hard to spot the flaws of others, unless you are richly endowed with them yourself. In this regard I am particularly fortunate but I have stumbled across some strange discoveries in my journey. I must admit I have heard the cock crow three times on more than one occasion and ducked the issue. Those moments live with you until you discover the courage to act differently. I have found, in real life, that the hero and villain both reside in us at the same time, and squabble with each other for the control of our actions. But the most startling thing I have found is that a moment in which you are prompted to do something for a fellow human, without agenda or sense of personal advancement, unnoticed by those around you, can end up being one of your most cherished memories and possessions.
No applause. No medals or celebrations but a sense of inner warmth. A brief meeting with the man you wish to be. A feeling of reassurance about the man you could be if you lived without grandstanding and took your conscience as your guide. A memory which could be recognised anywhere as valuable by any faith or religion or lack of it in any country anywhere. What could provide a richer harvest or a better place to stick your flag in the ground and say, “This is who I am and wish to be”.