Hope: The Principal Instrument

22 Apr 2014 by gebhard, 1 Comment »

1800014_10100899102688184_1650966878_oIn the course of my studies, I frequently review and think about chivalric virtues. Which virtue is the greatest? That must always be Prowess;  it’s the ability to get the job done. Without it, you can’t be a Knight. However, Prowess is given opportunity by a combination of many things.  That leads my to second favorite virtue, Hope.

Why is Hope such a vital virtue to have? Imagine a medieval Knight with his men cresting a hill to see the enemy camped in the distant. He turns to his men, looks them in the face with all the Courage he can summon, and says “Yep….We’re boned!”.

How well is that battle going to go?

Hope is the critical element needed to look past the situation at hand and to the positive result at the end without which Courage won’t have a chance to kick in.
To paraphrase Sir Roman Llull, spanish Knight who wrote “The Book of the Order of Chivalry” between 1279 and 1283.

“Hope is of vital Importance to the job of Knight.  It is hope which will allow him to be victorious in combat. Courage is powered by Hope.  Hope urges Knights on to endure hardships  on to endure tribulations and to risk themselves in perilous undertakings in which they often place themselves.  Without Hope a Knight would be powerless to do his job.

Hope is the principal instrument of a Knight’s occupation in the same way a hammer is the primary tool of a carpenter.

If Hope is such a vital part of everyday life, why is it so often left out? At the time of this writing, It’s not listed as a chivalric virtue on the middlewiki.

I have talked to many Knights, and asked them to name the most important virtues, or their top seven.  Hope has yet to be named among them.

Why is Hope disregarded when we think about Knightly Virtues? I have a theory.

I work a lot with children.  One of the reasons I enjoy my time with them is that they are huge balls of Hope. There could be a unicorn or giant chocolate bar under any rock or behind any hill. Everyone can grow up to be an astronaut, president or a wizard.

As we get older, normally in our teen years, we learn the world is a sucky place. There are no unicorns or wizards. Not everyone gets to be an astronaut, and less than honorable people will thrive while good people may not. Life isn’t Fair, and sooner or later we’ll die. It sucks and nothing matters.

A lot of what we think of Hope is found in this betrayal life had in store for us. This negative idea about life sells music, books, TV shows and just about everything else. Being distraught seems a core part of how many people get through a day. As such, being positive is fun to ridicule. (or at the very least ignored)

I would like to think that as we mature and grow, we can combine these viewpoints. Hope is the ability to understanding Life is not Fair but knowing you can still achieve a positive result. Understanding how other people behave does not affect what you can achieve.

Hope is what gets me out of bed at the start of every day.  I know that no matter what it is I’m dreading, we’ll come up with a way to make it work out.

Hope allows a positive viewpoint which will, in turn, make so many things possible that otherwise would not be.

When I look out over the crest of the hill and see a hundred enemies between us and the goal, I can say “I know it looks bad, but we got this!  I have a plan, and together we are going to punch through!


The image above was taken by: Marissa von Atzinger

The Book of the Order of Chivalry” online at:  http://www.rgle.org.uk/Llull_B_C.htm

Ramon_Llull on Wikipedia

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One Comment

  1. Great post! Hope is one of the virtues of chivalry I always admire, and espouse. I equate it to the period/medieval concept of “good cheer.” I think Ramon Llull knew just how hard it is to maintain a positive attitude in a world that seems bound to tear you down, and make you cynical, which is why he placed such value on the concept. When I wrote a piece on the Knightly Virtues a few years ago – http://chivalrytoday.com/knightly-virtues/ – one of my readers criticized me, and specifically said that the inclusion of hope in the list of virtues of the medieval knight was “total B.S.” Just goes to show that those medieval knights were pretty wise fellows – and might have known a thing or two more about real chivalry than we give them credit for!
    Keep up the great work!
    Guillaume

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