Seosaidh Blackwolf

Sincerity Essay


Del took a deep breath. She let it out. Her voice was gentle. “That’s insane,” she said.

“Maybe,” agreed Lewis as Foss lunged at him yet again, “but it’s sincere as hell!” -John Steakley, “Armor”


The Code of Chivalry always needs to be considered in context. In my last essay, I discussed the idea that honor is not nor can it ever be an absolute construct imposed from without. It is equally valid to propose that sincerity untempered is not inherently a desirable quality. As with the rest of the Code, it behooves us to take a moment to consider our sincerity and how we should express it.

The example above is taken from John Steakley’s “Armor”, a book which has been described as “Starship Troopers for adults.” Foss is angry at Lewis, who is wealthy, because he believes the Lewis is the reason Del will not pay attention to him. He tries to assault Lewis in order to gain favor with Del I suspect this sounded far more intelligent with the addition of several beers… That notwithstanding, it does seem as though, in his drunken state, Foss truly thinks that trying to beat up a former special operator to impress a woman is a great idea. To be fair, he doesn’t know that Lewis is a former special operator, but a little thought probably could have brought him to the realization that women rarely are impressed by men beating the hell out of each other.

Terrorists are sincere. Jared Loughner was sincere. So were Timothy McVeigh, James Holmes, and Elliot Rodgers. That they were sincere does not mitigate the fact that their behaviors were contemptible. The Militant Orders that we consider our spiritual ancestors were almost certainly sincere when they committed violence against those who had the temerity to believe differently than they did. It is clear that sincerity alone is insufficient.

How then are we to judge when to apply sincerity? The rest of the Code of Chivalry guides us. Sincerity without humility, courtesy, compassion, or justice could easily go awry or be misapplied. If we Develop a Sense of Right Action, if we think of the consequences of our actions, if we follow the Wiccan Rede and only do what we will if it harms none, than our sincerity is tempered and is not used to harm others.

I was talking with a friend about this, and he said “Well, at least your sincerity about your Code of Chivalry doesn’t have to be examined.” My response was “You know, Kerr wrote our Code of Chivalry, and as far as I know, he’s still human. I don’t think he wants me to blindly follow anything, especially him.” I am sincere about my belief in the Code. I try to live it every day. I try to use it in my life on a daily basis. But I also try to examine it, to test it, to see if it fits. Because to be sincere about the Code of Chivalry means to take it seriously, and that means one has to be reflective.

Sincere belief in the Code means all of it. The problem is that there is no code that isn’t self-contradictory at some point. Thoughtful reflection is required to ensure that our sincere desire to fulfill one part of the Code isn’t leading us to violate another part. So, I sez to myself, exactly how do I do that?

We can be guided by this in the Wiccan Rede. “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” Would our action- no matter how sincere- harm another? If so, then the action is to be avoided. The same is true for honesty, truth, etc- if to follow the Code violates the Wiccan Rede, then we do not move forward, regardless of whether or not we are sincere.

In that sense we can consider that the Wiccan Rede is the focus of the Code of Chivalry. The Code tells us to value sincerity and to be sincere. What we then must do is, with sincerity, focus on the Rede. (This applies to the other parts of the Code, but this is an essay about sincerity.) If we are sincere about the observation of and dedication to the Rede, we are less likely to engage in behaviors that will harm others, no matter how sincerely held our belief that action is needed.

I probably am thinking about this in light of recent events here in California. When someone like Elliot Rodgers does this sort of thing, people come forward with their theories of what could have been done to prevent it. Sincere theories. The problem is, they’re all wrong. I know, because had he survived, there’s a good chance that Rodgers would have come to us. And it would have been years, if ever, before we understood him. People demand that “something be done” in the sincere belief that if we just followed their plan that the world could be made safer.

I wish they were right. But returning this discussion to the issue of sincerity as it applies to us as Knights, it is simply our responsibility to, before espousing our sincerely held beliefs, consider whether or not our actions will harm someone. It doesn’t matter if we think we’re right, it doesn’t matter if it might do some good, it matters that we have put the lens of our ultimate Code to the issue before we step into action (or refrain from action).