At a time when we're becoming more and more disconnected in our communities, will you slip on a suit of armour and be the knight that shines on someone's day?
I was barked at on the street the other day. BARKED AT! Like: woof, woof, by a fully grown man. “Did you just bark at me?” I couldn’t help but retort.
“You’re in my way!” he replied, in his gruff tone.
“Did you just, seriously bark at me… on the street?!?” Luckily, the person that sleeps in my bed gently nudged me to the side of the pavement before any further excitement could ensue, but really… barking. Has it come to that?
Gender equal chivalry, and why it needs to start now
Barking aside, most people are fundamentally good. When somebody faints on the street in the overwhelming Hong Kong heat, and I’ve seen it more times than you’d imagine, there are always people coming to assist, and that’s great. But what about the little things, like holding a door open, or giving up a seat on the MTR or the tram? Do you do them? Do you do them for others? I’m perplexed.
You see, the word chivalry comes from a time when the world was a completely different place; a time when knights sat around tables planning on how to rescue fair maidens from castles and conquer empires. It was the age of chivalry, when knights would fight until arms would fall off and claim: ‘Tis but a scratch! (or was that Monty Python?) anyway, it was a different time.
Jump forward a couple of thousand years, and can we really only expect men to be chivalrous in the so-called age of equality? Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a man holds the door for me–such a gentleman–but shouldn’t I do the same for a man if it’s raining and his hands are full? And shouldn’t I do the same thing for a woman? Gender equal chivalry is really just a fancy name for manners, and I think it’s time to really embrace them. In fact, I’d encourage you to dig deep into wherever those basic human interaction skills you have are buried and let them loose.
As we move through a world that constantly becomes more reliant on technology and machines, human connection is slowly evaporating. My sisters and I used to play with our neighbours’ dog and bounce on their family trampoline when they were on summer holiday, nowadays, do you even know your neighbours?
Gender equal chivalry is, quite simply, thinking about others. If you’re sitting on the MTR playing Words with Friends on your phone, you probably won’t notice the 36-week pregnant lady to your right. Be present, be chivalrous, look up, no matter your gender, offer her a seat.
When you look at synonyms for chivalry, it’s interesting to note that the words, at least in English, are gender neutral: thoughtfulness, attentiveness, consideration.
So tell me, are you a knight in shining armour?