Chivalry in action

Posted 2/20/11

Sometimes I will receive just a few emails from a column and sometimes the community responds vigorously as was the case a couple of months ago when …

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Chivalry in action


Sometimes I will receive just a few emails from a column and sometimes the community responds vigorously as was the case a couple of months ago when I wrote a column about the perceived lack of chivalry in our society.

Let me tell you, it has been awesome. As a whole, the community has been sending in reports of observed chivalry in action since I wrote that column, but more importantly folks have been sharing their own stories, stories of how they have made it a priority to be aware of opportunities to act with chivalry and how good it feels to be a difference maker, regardless of how large or small the gesture.

Men, women, and teens are giving up their seats on buses, shuttles, and the light rail. People are holding doors open for one another and husbands and boyfriends are opening car doors for their wives and girlfriends. Businessmen have sent emails recognizing their oblivious poor behavior and promised change. Wives and moms are sending thankful messages as they, too, are witnessing their spouses and children acting in ways that they have been longing for.

Here’s the point, many of us act with a sense of self-diagnosed urgency and forget those in our path, we believe our task at hand is more important than the courtesy and politeness we owe the elderly, the women, the children, and the handicapped.

There is no question that there are people of all ages, sexes, and races who have taken advantage of the kindness and generosity of those of us who have practiced chivalry all or most of our lives. So maybe, just maybe some of us have allowed those who haven’t appreciated the good of our motives, our chivalrous intentions to alter the way we act or behave in some cases. In any given situation where we could have demonstrated our true hearts and intentions, we quite possibly have given life to our jaded opinions that drive how we now respond.

Some of the respondents to my column pointed to the lack of chivalry having a direct correlation to an absence or lack of parenting. Several believe that recent generations have grown up with a sense of entitlement and so of course they would be oblivious to any opportunities to demonstrate or even experience chivalry. They operate purely from a “what’s in it for me” mentality.

Whether we choose to point the finger of blame at urgency, or people who have taken advantage of the system, or the kindness and generosity of others, or the absence of parenting, one thing is for certain, time compression and the need for speed have become the norm and a significant part of the everyday stresses we all face. So we need to acknowledge that we are all pressed for time and moving rapidly through each day, through life. And if we can elevate our own awareness while keeping our chivalry radar turned on, we will pick up on opportunities to do the right thing. We will put chivalry into action.

Jana Stanfield in her song “All the Good” shares a lyric, “I cannot do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good I can do.” And Zig Ziglar says it this way, “You have everything in life that you want, just as long as you help enough other people get what they want.”

Do some of the good that the world needs, help someone else get what they want and need, put chivalry back in action, and I promise you will have a better than good week. As always I would love to hear all about it at

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


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