#153 Taking Ownership

A few weeks ago I received the following paragraph from a friend of mine that has been on my mind ever since. It part of a paper entitled "The Problem of War, C.S. Lewis on Pacifism, War & the Christian Warrior", written by Darrell Cole. There is a section of the paper entitled, 'The Demands of Chivalry' that caught my eye and is the focus of most of my thoughts today.


"Lewis's essay on chivalry is an exemplary argument about Christian just war-making. Lewis saw what few of our contemporaries do: that just war requires just people to wage it. Chivalry is, properly speaking, the character that enables human beings to be 'fierce to the nth degree meek to the nth degree. Thus, the medieval ideal brings together two things that do not grow together naturally in a human being: fierceness and meekness. To acquire such a character is no easy matter. As Lewis reminds us, the knight is a work of art, not nature. Those who are naturally fitted to war-like pursuits will have to acquire the virtues of humility and mercy to supplement their inherent fierceness. Those who are naturally meek will have to acquire the virtues of courage and valor to supplement their natural humility and mildness. "

The beginning sentences of the next paragraph almost stunned me in their clarity and simplicity and truth.

"Nations who wish to fight just wars must produce just commanders and soldiers to fight them. If we cannot produce chivalrous persons, then we end up with people who are useful in battle but useless in peace, or who are useful in peace but useless in battle."

As my journey has progressed, I have become aware in very tangible and real ways of my own power. My own capacity. I have learned to listen very carefully to my self and to pay attention to when I am most calm and focused and centered and clear and thoughtful and complete. I have learned to listen to that and to seek it out in times when I lose sight of it. When something seems to knock me backwards a step or when I have a moment of doubt. I am learning to pay attention to that uncomfortableness and then trace it back to a cause. When did I leave the powerful and clear and calmly sure place and start to drift? Why? When? And I have learned to fight my way back. Back to the place of calm, confident, control. I have learned, to a degree, to channel and keep hold of that powerful place inside me. Every single day, I can feel myself moving further and further away from my fear-based past and towards this place of deep strength and true comfortable power.

What the hell does all that have to do with C.S. Lewis, just war, and chivalry? A lot I think. A hell of a lot. Ever since the holidays, my writing and thinking has been consumed in one form or another with the idea of responsibility and accountability and ownership of your life, your decisions and your behavior. That you make choices and you are responsible for those choices. That you make decisions as a leader and you are responsible for those decisions. That you make just and right choices, or unjust and wrong choices and you have to live up to those decisions. That you must find, develop, and then listen to your code.

In Post 150, the message was simple. "Don't rape." Not "Don't rape because if you do I will put you in jail and you will have XYZ happen to you.", but simply "Don't rape. It's not what good men and good warriors and good Soldiers do." End of story. Anything more than that, anything that lays out potential punishment etc should not be necessary. Rape is against the code. In Post 151, I came to see the true power of me in a very clear and concise and pointed and sharp manner for, quite possibly, the first time. I truly saw the implications and gained an understanding of my own power. My own strength. My own truth as a man and as a leader. I have never in my life felt so authentically alive as I did when I wrote that. Believe me, it was like a veil was lifted from my eyes and I could finally step into a place that was totally and completely mine. I am now making choices and decisions because they are right or wrong for me, not because of what I think might happen to me if I choose incorrectly. In Post 152, that authentic power and decision making and choice acceptance suddenly came with consequences. I am accountable for my choices, my decisions, my actions. My life is not an accident. It is mine. I choose it and I make decisions in it that have outcomes and I am responsible for those outcomes. That is what self-leadership is about. And for a man who spent many years trying to make sure he wasn't wrong, so he didn't get caught, the idea of stepping into my powerful self, making my own choices and accepting that no matter what, I am responsible for those choices, is a very very big leap forward.

"Just war requires just people to wage it...."

"The Knight is a work of art, not nature...."

"Nations who wish to fight just wars, must produce just commanders and Soldiers to fight them."

"Chivalry is....the ability to be fierce in the nth degree and meek in the nth degree...."

In response to Post 152, a friend of mine said it was a "Swing and a miss". I understand now that he was right. I was refusing to bring all of me and my power to that place to affect change. I wanted to expect that you knew what right looked like and would automatically do it, instead of realizing that I have a responsibility to demonstrate the Knight's code by my total immersive demonstrated powerful self. That it is not the position I hold that commands the respect of those who are below me on the hierarchy, it is me. It is me that they will or wont follow, me they will or wont respect, me they will or wont want to emulate and learn from. It is not the rank I have or the title I hold. It is Fenlason. That is who they are ultimately following. And I am responsible for him. No one else. Without excuse or worry. You are not responsible for my decisions, I am. And once made and once chosen, using all of my power, all of my authentic self, I will move the organization in the direction of my vision.

And so justice and justness become critical considerations. Those we choose to fill leadership positions must possess the judgment to be just. To be fierce and to be meek. To be chivalrous. To step into all of their power and fully realize and accept that it is they who are the role models and mentors and leaders. It is they who have to set and establish and demand adherence to the Knight's code. It is they who have to establish and enforce and teach chivalry. It is me.

I keep coming back to the quote that the Knight is a work of art, not nature. Today, right here and right now, that feels so very true to me. I have come along way on my journey. I feel like all the chipping away and sculpting and starting over and missed brush strokes and erasing and missed steps have finally shown me what i needed to see. It finally feels like a lot of it is starting to come together.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.


  1. Very well and powerfully written. I really hope that as you move on both in the Army and whatever is after that, that you are able to share what you have learned and discovered on your journey. Your learning curve and journey have taught me a great deal.


  2. Excellent Fen!...I'll show this to my niece boyfriend he's in the Army at Ft. Sill and I'm sure he'll like this!