Stewart: Chivalry encourages the development of better human beings

Opening the door is not the hardest thing to do. It’s simple, really: Just turn the handle and open it.

Good, now you know the most basic form of manners, although how anyone got through life without knowing how to open a door is a mystery. So, keeping in mind the relative ease at which doors are opened, the number of people who will open a door for their fellows is pretty dismal. It’s no wonder many people believe chivalry to be dead.

Chivalry, also known as the Knights Code, is a set of rules – simple rules – that one can choose to follow not for monetary gain but for the benefit of others.

These rules pertain primarily to the treatment of others, such as helping those who are less fortunate and treating others with respect. Although classic knights with their tales of heroism and damsels in distress haven’t existed for several hundred years, their ethical code should still apply today because at its heart the code of chivalry relates to the core of human interaction.

Put bluntly, it teaches you how to be a better human being. We have been brought into an age of paranoia and distrust. Even an act as simple as opening the door for someone can be subjected to irrational fear, be it fear of the person’s intent or fear of seeming politically incorrect, for example, when a man holds a door open for a woman. While these ideas – specifically political correctness – may be good in theory, nothing is good in excess, be it chocolate, exercise or water.

Along with this, we now live in a time where everyone is so intently focused on getting themselves ahead that many have lost touch with their fellow persons, losing compassion and interest in anything other than what pertains to them.

A glaring example is the state of health care in America, as those against universal health care became outraged at the thought of anyone getting a “free ride.” This lack of care, or any concern at all, is appalling. No one in this world is created equal, no matter how we want to cut it. Some people are born into poverty and some are born into affluence. While some may be lucky enough to somehow build themselves up in life, others are not so fortunate or have made mistakes. We’re all humans, after all, and humans are not infallible. So it’s left to us as the human race to look out for our fellows, raising those who have fallen and restoring at least some semblance of balance.

But nothing worth doing is easy and, as such, any social reform should be taken one step at a time. While, I admit, there are several more major problems in our world today, the loss of chivalry is still important to keep in mind. So let me offer this: Open that door or help someone carry something. Show at least some care for someone other than yourself.