Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chivalry and Confrontations

I was accosted by a homeless man this morning. I say accosted because he blocked my path and demanded that I turn out my pockets. He said, "You can help! You have money in your pocket. Show me!" He was stumbling a bit, so he may have been drunk—or tired, or just plain angry about his situation.

A fellow New Yorker—one that towered over me and looked like he played football at one point in his past—intervened. He stepped between me and the homeless man, and told him firmly to stop harassing women on the street. And then he told him where he could find a shelter. He didn't chastise the man or overtly embarrass him, but made it clear that he was being inappropriate.

I was impressed. it was oddly chivalrous. And I don't just mean that in terms of the accepted definition of rescuing a damsel in distress and all that jazz. When you consider the origins of the term, which also emphasizes honor, service, and courtesy, chivalry becomes a code that can be extended to anyone. 

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