HE TRIED TO BE A GOOD PERSON, BUT JUST COULDN’T DO IT. —Roland Vikre

307607_273015472732135_1852912199_n

Philanthropy, meaning “humanity loving,” is a word whose origins can be traced to ancient Greece and playwright Aeschylus’ description of Prometheus in his play Prometheus Bound.

By the 1700’s English lexicographer, Samuel Johnson added to the definition by defining philanthropy as, “Having a good-natured love of mankind.”

This good-natured aspect was made manifest during The Scottish Enlightenment when the act of becoming philanthropic was perceived as a “fitness” or, as a way of living in harmony with nature and one’s circumstances. Doing good deeds was proposed as an essential key to human happiness, and helped to build a commonwealth community. Thus, volunteering became a popular pastime among the wealthy, and societies, gentleman clubs, and mutual associations began to flourish.

In the above painting, the morally out-of-shape gentleman, however, whose philanthropic fitness has been woefully unrealized, laments: HE TRIED TO BE A GOOD PERSON, BUT JUST COULDN’T DO IT.

 

“HE DIED FOR HIS COUNTRY, BUT NO ONE NOTICED.” Roland Vikre

304817_247703495263333_2756761_n

For all intents and purposes, medieval warfare was a grueling, gruesome, dysentery provoking pastime for the common foot soldier. But for the mounted, more well-to-do, sometimes noble knight, it could be an opportunity to increase land holdings, do some social climbing, cash in on ransomed prisoners, and enjoy the genteel accoutrements of a pillaged village.

Of course, there were drawbacks to being a mounted knight as well. For instance, at Agincourt, in 1415 (think Shakespeare’s Henry V), the English defeated a French army five times its size. Due in part, to the poor judgment of a good number of acquisitive French equestrians who could hardly wait to get their hands on the cream of English nobility and ransom them to the highest bidder.

Wearing heavy, steel, state-of-the-art armor in what must have seemed like a “shock and awe” moment; the French raced on horseback through the narrow, muddy swamp. French foot soldiers felled by the famous English longbow turned the constricted battlefield into an outright bottleneck. Undeterred, the ransom-hungry equestrians galloped on over their broken bodies—in many cases, drowning their fellow Frenchmen in the mud. Though English arrows were no match for their fancy French steel; the knights failed to appreciate (with disastrous consequences) that their horses could still be shot out from under them. (When you fall from your horse into the mud wearing 66-110 lb’s of steel, suffice to say, it’s not easy to get up no matter how good you look!)
c.v.