Has urgency replaced chivalry?

Posted 11/12/10

Who even uses the word “chivalry” anymore? Probably the same people who still watch John Wayne movies and who remember what the word means. By …

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Has urgency replaced chivalry?


Who even uses the word “chivalry” anymore? Probably the same people who still watch John Wayne movies and who remember what the word means. By the way, I love John Wayne movies.

Webster defines chivalry as “martial valor; knightly skill; gallant or distinguished gentlemen; qualities of the ideal knight”

So why am I even writing about chivalry? You see to me, chivalrous behavior should include things like giving up your seat to a woman on a bus, holding open a door for a woman or child, defending someone in need, demonstrating common courtesy and politeness, and just doing the right thing. Integrity.

Maybe it was because I traveled with my wife this week that I became so tuned into the lack of public chivalry among us. But what I realized is that I wasn’t just disappointed with the poor behavior and lack of respect for women, children, and even folks in wheelchairs, what shocked me was the reasoning or rationale for the behavior … urgency.

Let me share a little of what I witnessed this week. As a group of us waited to board the train at DIA, men — not just one man but a few men in suits — pushed their way to the front of the line to make sure they caught that train. Even if they waited, I can assure you they would have made that train. In the group of people they cut off were a woman in a wheelchair, an elderly couple, a family with three children, my wife and me. When we arrived at terminal B, they barreled their way past everyone again.

They did not appear to be traveling together, and they did not appear to be in dire need of catching a flight as coincidentally one of them happened to be on my flight and ended up in the same gate area. He took two seats, one for himself and one for his briefcase. Again, leaving people standing who could have used a seat.

When we finally arrived in Baltimore, we boarded an already overcrowded rental car bus. Men — grown professional men — stayed seated while several women and elderly couples stood groping and trying to find something or someone to hold on to. The men, face down in their cell phones, never made eye contact and not one of them offered a seat to anyone.

Now I am not writing this to start a debate about how a woman can do anything that a man can do, or how the elderly are equally as capable of living freely and independently as any one else. The goal of this column is to reach some of my traveling brethren, and men in general, and remind them that there should be nothing so urgent or pressing that we completely disregard the courtesy and respect due to others. Slow down, calm down, and act with chivalry and kindness.

Open a door, hold an elevator, give up your seat, and just act with someone other than yourself in mind. It is really not that hard, and actually the grateful and warm smiles make the effort all that much more rewarding. Maybe watch a John Wayne movie too.

I would love to hear your thoughts on chivalry and public integrity at gotonorton@gmail.com and make it a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of www.candogo.com.


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