Hundreds of years ago, a word was spoken for the first time. Not an uncommon action, but in this instance, the word and what it stood for would last for ages - or will it?
That word was chivalry. It was spoken in the time when a knight would fight for his lady and her honor, and would not allow a slight on either.
Over time, as technology improved and the world changed, the idea of chivalry evolved.
Soon it came about that men would lay down their coats over puddles to allow ladies clean passage, and men would walk on the left to protect their lady from flying refuse.
But now, chivalry is in a battle for its life.
Some people argue that chivalry is rapidly dying, while others merely say that chivalry is just not as widespread as before. It is apparent that chivalry is struggling, though.
For example, I was walking to class recently, and was startled that the man in front of me did not hold the door; in fact, he never so much as turned his head to see if someone was coming through after him.
I was then shocked a few hours later when I pulled out the chair for a woman in the cafeteria, and she remarked that no one had ever done that before for her. It is a disheartening thought that chivalry may be slowly dying.
Chivalry's dying out may be attributed to the ever-evolving technology of today's world. Technology has been rapidly changing. Not only has it been speeding up communication, but it also has been discouraging face to face interaction.
This decrease in face-to-face interaction means that there is less chances for chivalry to prevail during the day. Because it is less obvious, it is less likely that people even know how to be chivalrous. The impersonalness of today's world is slowly killing chivalry, and we as men must rescue it.
But the first question isn't how, it's why? Why should we save chivalry?
Chivalry has been around for a long time, but it has more to it than just a tradition. Communications majors will see how it positively affects the human condition.
History majors will see living history and the chance to better understand ourselves through our past. Psychology majors will see the benefits it has on the brain. And everyone else will see how happy it makes people, as well as themselves.
Chivalry is one of the few things with an immediate, visible, positive result. And so I ask you, whomever is reading this article: when was the last time you held the door for someone? When was the last time you let someone go ahead of you? The last time you offered your seat to someone standing? The last time you tipped your hat to someone?
The last time you opened a car door for someone? The last time you pulled out a chair for someone? The proud answer to at least one of these questions should be "today."
These are not all the chivalrous deeds in the world, but they are a starting point. By doing just one of those things, it not only makes the doer feel better, the receiver feel better, but also sets an example of what should be encouraged in the world.
The Golden Rule states that one should treat others how he wishes to be treated. I know that personally I would love to have chivalrous deeds done for me, so why not do them first?
There is but one more thing to talk about with the urging for the salvation of chivalry. Text less, instant message less and e-mail less.
Instead, call someone to talk with them, or meet them somewhere to talk in person.
Write a hand-written letter, don't type it on the computer. Be more personal; interact with people so that chivalry can make a comeback.
Chivalry cannot stay around if the world continues to become more impersonal. It is based on personal interaction, something that is dying in this new age of technology.
Nowadays, it is more likely for someone to run into you while texting, rather than having a conversation with someone holding the door for you.
Chivalry has helped define what the world has become, and it needs to continue that trend. I challenge everyone to be more chivalrous in their lives; help chivalry with its struggle in an impersonal world.
Breech is a junior at Lycoming College in the history department.