The Death of Chivalry

Written by BG Howard

July 26, 2023

I visited a local pizzeria in early 2018 to speak with a young man I’ll simply refer to as John. His mother had been instrumental in the organization of a dinner held in honor of Kairos Prison Ministry team’s volunteers the previous October and we’d encountered one another the previous night. It had been agreed for me to stop by his job that Friday and I arrived at the restaurant about 7:20p.

As I parked, it was necessary to wait until a Cadillac pulled into the space beside me. By the time I’d loosened the seat belt and climbed out, the woman seated on the passenger’s side had unfastened her belt in preparation to exit her vehicle as well. My natural instinct was to open the door of the Cadillac as the man, I reasoned was her husband, hadn’t moved from the driver’s seat. Respectfully, I acknowledged the gentleman as his wife climbed out and even circled the car to shake his hand before going to the entrance of the building.

Oddly enough, as I approached the front door, two young ladies accompanied by several teens were standing inside near the exit. Again, I held the door for them to pass and offered to assist with the number of pizza boxes they were carrying. It surprised me and honestly came across as being somewhat peculiar when one of the youth asked what I was doing. He actually questioned my reason for offering to help the woman who subsequently identified herself as his mother.

Since one of the young men had posed the question, I stopped to explain the concept of chivalry to the three still standing near the entrance. Not so astonishing was the fact neither of them seemed remotely interested in my explanation of something that left the eldest with the resolve, “Women can open doors for theyself.” The mother just stood shaking her head, thanked me while simultaneously declining my offer to carry the pizzas and shoving the boxes into the stomach of the adolescent closest to her.

The unexpected life lesson prompted some degree of serious thought about the state of young men in today’s world. What are they being taught? Who’s offering to educate them concerning the very real aspects of what it means to be a man? Why does it seem that we, as adults, are failing our youth?

Unfortunately, the general answer to that problem can be directly associated with the reason for my being involved in the prison ministry from the beginning. The disproportionate number of incarcerated males leaves few to whom young men can turn as role models. Of course, there are fictitious characters on television or movie actors one can choose to emulate but what ever happened to the fathers, grandfathers, and uncles who’d share words of wisdom to young, developing men?

There seems to have been a drastic change in a society that no longer tolerates a person “sewing” into younger generations. Most of the elder dispensers of wisdom have passed on; leaving only the remnant of so-called self made men more concerned with how they can get ahead in life while extending minimal effort in the process. Few people are interested in good old fashioned hard work or sincerely investing the time and effort required to nurture a young mind to adulthood. We live in a “microwave” society that expects immediate gratification from mediocre investment. The world has placed unrealistic demands upon our youth while denying their ability to get ahead utilizing the tried and true method of “keeping your nose to the grind and creating opportunities.”

Sadly enough, young men aren’t taught to be men but are, instead, told it’s perfectly acceptable to choose being whomever or whatever they want. At the same time, young women are discouraged from any dependence upon men and convinced they can live out their dreams without involvement of the opposite sex.

I, for one, agree with people broadening their horizons and have nothing against anyone exercising a level of independence that would equate self-sufficiency. It’s just unfortunate that, in the quest to discover their individual identities, many of today’s youth are so misguided and ill-informed that they have a difficult time understanding exactly what is real.

Young ladies should never be told it’s unacceptable for a man to carry their packages or open and hold doors for them. Men should be encouraged to treat women as the princesses and queens they are, with due respect. It seems the more society “declares” its independence and moves farther away from God’s divinely designed plan, the more disruptive and hopeless life becomes. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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