AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

Are you an AmeriCAN or an AmeriCAN'T?

Reason Number 5,254 Why I Read and Promote Military Blogs

Outstanding, deep pieces such as these two from GRIM (who posts regularly at his site GRIM’s Hall and at Blackfive) and Cassandra at Mudville Gazette’s Milblogs:

GRIM: Chivalry and Women

Two citations today, to inform our recent discussion. The first one is from the invaluable book The Archaelogy of Weapons: Arms and Armor from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry by Ewart Oakeshott. The quote is from pp 186-7.

The inevitable development of what we might call the official knightly attitude towards women began to take hold in the middle of the twelfth century. It was given impetus by the poets of southern France, particularly after Eleanor of Aquitaine (one of the most glamorous women of the Middle Ages, who later married Henry II of England and became the mother of Richard Lion-Heart and John) came from Provence to Paris to become for a while the Queen of Louis VII of France. The mingling of the tongues of “oc” and “oui” in overseas expeditions strengthened it.

[“Oc” and “oui” here refers to two major dialects of Middle French, in which the word for “yes” was pronounced one of two different ways. This was not the only difference, of course, just the one chosen as an easy symbol. In Ivanhoe, Richard the Lionheart offers to sing “a ‘sirvente’ in the language of ‘oc,’ or a ‘lai’ in the language of ‘oui,'” but ends up singing a ballad in the English at the request of the Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst, that is, Friar Tuck. -Grim]

Henceforth the influence of women dominates chivalry, and religion and feudal loyalty take second place. Only war, a glorious and exciting pastime and a stimulating way of winning wealth, kept its high place as a gentleman’s most cherished occupation; but the influence of love as the mainspring of warlike aspiration gave a much lighter rhythm to it, and to literature and life itself. Poets sing now only of their ladies’ perfections, crave their pity and strive to merit their grace. The knight fights as hard as he ever did (he was not to be deprived of his business or his fun) but it is to win his lady’s favors, and the word amoureux comes to mean more than it does today, for it covers the entire range of knightly virtue. The idea has prevailed that:

Hee never were a good werryoure
That cowde not love aryghte

“He who loves not is but half a man” and “pour l’amour des dames devient li vilains courtois.”

The “influence of women” which “dominates” chivalry is not an oppressive influence. It liberated women and gave them a powerful voice in society, without either demeaning men or making them resentful of feminine power. Just the opposite: It is one embraced cheerfully by men of the sort who can tame horses and ride them to war.

Unlike the culture war sparked by the feminists of today, the situation provoked by Eleanor’s court was a genuine improvement of the relationship between men and women — one that, from the distance of the twelfth century, still inspires us, and seems almost to glow across the ages. It may mark the high point of the relations between the sexes in all human history.

GRIM concludes:

You will, I hope, have gathered from what I have said about this Rock “Women,” that it has dangers for the woman as well as for the man. But it has also its very bright side if you only manoeuvre your canoe aright.

The paddle to use for this job is CHIVALRY.

Most of the points which I have suggested as being part of the right path are comprised under chivalry.

The knights of old were bound by their oath to be chivalrous, that is to be protective and helpful to women and children. This means on the part of the man a deep respect and tender sympathy for them, coupled with a manly strength of mind and strength of body with which to stand up for them against scandal, cruelty or ridicule, and even, on occasion, to help them against their own failings.

A man without chivalry is no man.

I would strongly suggest that “sexism” is a false star. Navigating by it leads us into errors and anger with one another that are needless and pointless. What is wanted is equality of opportunity, but not that men and women should be treated as if they were exactly the same: no one wants that, not the most sincere feminist, who at least believes that women have something special to offer. As indeed they have!

Women should always be treated with chivalry, with “deep respect and tender sympathy.” Equality of opportunity aside, women and men are not the same — it is good that a man should understand how they are different, and take pains to make women feel welcome and valued. He should showcase his valor in the way of the knights and poets of old: so that, in him, the entire range of knightly virtue is expressed through love.

Indeed. Amen to that.

Cassandra: A Suspension of Contempt

“Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less.”
-Robert E. Lee

I woke this morning knowing I could no longer put this off. For well over a year a feeling has been building inside of me, but until now I could see no useful purpose in naming the thing I see everywhere I look these days.

There is an ancient superstition which whispers that to name a thing gives it power. I think part of the rationalization for this idea lies in the notion that so long as certain things remain partially hidden, never quite seen in their entirety, decent people are still ashamed to acknowledge them in the harsh light of day.

My father was a Navy man. So, too, was my father in law. Both served full careers and retired as Captains. Destroyer men, they were. Both served in Vietnam. My Uncle Mel was a Marine in WWII, my Grandfather served in the Army. I have ancestors who served all the way back to the Civil (both sides) and Revolutionary wars. So although marrying a military man formed no part of my plans as a young girl, when my husband informed me he had signed up for Marine Officer ROTC, what could I do? I had already said, “I do”. I loved my husband, and I love my country. Both deserve my support, and not just when that support is easy and convenient.

A promise is a promise. I was in for the duration, either way.

The ironic thing was that during my formative years I’d watched my mother (with much love and admiration) struggle with yearly moves, sea duty, and the loneliness and worry that come with being a Navy wife. Consequently, I swore I would never marry a Navy man. No worries. It seemed Fate had a far crueler destiny in mind for me. I would go through life handcuffed to a chicken on a beach ball.

My mind drifts back to this often now when I read the media’s heart rending accounts of young Army officers “forced” to leave the service so their brides can attend college [sniff!]. This is -alas! – the only way they and their families can have a “normal” life. I wonder, as I read, what is normal like? Was my life ever normal? Would I trade one precious second of the profoundly un-normal last three decades for that more tranquil existence, for more money, for the dreamy McMansions we keep looking at, the ones with brick all the way around the house instead of just on the front facade? The ones with all the trimmings I can think up – and I can think up a lot, trust me on that one.

I can imagine a lot of tranquility, too. But are these things: college, jobs, material possessions, what make up the good life? Or is it the friends – the connections – we gather along the way that truly matter, even if they tend to make our lives a bit hectic and messy? [ … ]

Be sure to read her entire post as she ponders this question. Very thought-provoking and she takes a shot at some military spouses that should interest some.

This is just a sampling of some of the amazing contributions the military community and military bloggers provide in my everyday life and, of course, in the everyday lives of their other readers and friends/family/coworkers. I can’t express enough how much I have grown as a person and as a man, simply from reading military blogs. We have some amazing people in our United States Armed Forces who are much more than simply names, statistics, MOSs and medals and awards.

I hope you all take the time to check out the links I have provided (or see the MANY links to military blogs I have provided in my MILBLOGS banner above) and also pass them on to others. They come from all backgrounds, all MOSs, all branches of the military and from all different ranks and knowledge bases – from the grunts to the decorated, well-connected high ranking officers – and all different experience levels, current members and veterans of past wars and OIF and OEF. These ladies and gentlemen are truly an invaluable and priceless contribution to our culture and understanding and appreciation of our country, our military and our fellow man.

Please do make it a point to read at least one of their sites daily.

April 19, 2008 , 2:56PM - Posted by | Honor, Military, Military Blogs

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