Samurai, Knights, and Cowboys have always been a Hollywood staple, primarily because they are archetypes. For me they were role models, even if they were absentee role models — like my Dad. I was here in the States studying English at a young age and the cold, dark Atlantic served as a chasm between father and son. My parents always provided for me and plane tickets were sent often, they just never made it into my possession. The reason why and how this affected me and my older brother is fodder for a future post.
Having to fend for myself at an early age, without a strong male role model on this side of the Atlantic, I naturally found one elsewhere. I wasn't attracted to politicians, movie stars or professional athletes. I was instead attracted to archetypes, to heroes of yesteryear. The heroes who fought for right, for those too weak to defend themselves and did so even if it meant the loss of personal life. Coincidentally, figures who most closely adhered to this moral code happened to be Samurai, Knights + Cowboys.
I did know that these rules of conduct existed outside of faith, organized religion and the norm of societies that did not look after their fellow man. I read voraciously about the archetypes taking in all the details of bushido, chivalry and the exploits of the old west.
To say I embodied the moral code of all these archetypes early in my life would be laughable. It wasn't until Page, a long-time college friend, mentioned that I had slipped into a vortex of self-centered interest that it registered in my conscience.
In other words, I had turned into an asshole. In many ways she was right, in my twenties, I was not the best friend I could be and most of my focus centered around my career. To be truthful, the turn around did not start on that exact day but, the seeds were planted. Eventually, when I can sit down with Page and have a serious conversation, I'll be sure to remind her and say thank-you for the heads-up. Until then, I work at it every day.
Though the "codes of the warrior" that governed the archetypes were disparate and often not uniform they did share these basic common elements; mercy, courage, and loyalty.
Bushidō, meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a name in common usage since the late 19th century which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct adhered to by samurai since time immemorial, and loosely analogous to Western concepts of chivalry. This code is said to have emphasized virtues such as loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, filial piety, and self-sacrifice. Although Chinese-derived Confucian concepts such as loyalty and filial piety were certainly extolled in Japanese texts from the medieval period, the actual term bushidō is extremely rare in ancient texts, and does not even appear in famous texts supposedly describing this code, such as the Hagakure of Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Moreover, although at various points in Japanese history certain feudal lords promulgated prescriptive "House Codes" to guide the actions of their retainers, there never existed a single, unified "samurai code" which all Japanese warriors adhered to or were even aware of.
~wikipedia as of 07.13.2010
the seven virtues of Bushido: Rectitude (gi) • Courage (yu) • Benevolence (jin) • Respect (rei) • Honesty (makoto or shin) • Honor (meiyo) • Loyalty (chugi) related virtues: Filial piety (kō) • Wisdom (chi) • Care for the aged (tei)
“Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. It is usually associated with ideals of knightly virtues, honor and courtly love. The word is derived from the French word "chevalerie", itself derived from "chevalier", which means knight, derived from "cheval", horse (indicating one who rides a horse). Today, the terms chivalry and chivalrous are often used to describe courteous behavior, especially that of men towards women. Between the 11th century and 16th centuries Medieval writers often used the word chivalry, but its definition was never consistent between authors, and its meaning would change on a basis that determines where you are, and even over time. Further, its modern meanings are different from its medieval meanings. Thus, the exact meaning of chivalry changes depending on the writer, the time period, and the region, so a comprehensive definition of the term is elusive."
~wikipedia as of 07.13.2010
CODE of the WEST (Cowboys)
"First chronicled by the famous western writer, Zane Grey, in his 1934 novel The Code of the West, no "written" code ever actually existed. However, the hardy pioneers who lived in the west were bound by these unwritten rules that centered on hospitality, fair play, loyalty, and respect for the land. Ramon Adams, a Western historian, explained it best in his 1969 book, The Cowman and His Code of Ethics, saying, in part: "Back in the days when the cowman with his herds made a new frontier, there was no law on the range. Lack of written law made it necessary for him to frame some of his own, thus developing a rule of behavior which became known as the "Code of the West." These homespun laws, being merely a gentleman’s agreement to certain rules of conduct for survival, were never written into statutes, but were respected everywhere on the range."
~the full post @ Legends of America, Code of the West