Basic Human Functioning

What do I need to get started?

Before a fitness trainer will accept a new client, they usually require some statement from a doctor showing that the person is at a basic level of health and wellness; or else they require the new client to sign a waiver. The assumption is that certain activities taken to a level too high for your ability is a sure recipe for injury or burnout, which ultimately will hamper real progress.

In the same way, anyone sharing their own personal plan for acheiving greatness in life needs to make their assumptions clear. In talking about The New Chivalry Project, I assume a certain basic level of human functioning, i.e. I expect that most people willing to try such a program will not be absolutely floundering in any of the five areas.

  1. Soul: Generally keeping the commandments, avoiding mortal sins, attending Mass on Sunday, communion and confession once a year (i.e. the precepts of the Church). Some kind of sporadic prayer life.
  2. Mind: Generally have the skills and knowledge needed to maintain your professional and personal life.
  3. Body: No addictions jeopardizing health (drugs or alcohol). May not be in shape, but at least not unhealthily overweight. Eat fairly nutritious food, get enough sleep.
  4. Appetites: Desires are not out of control. No major addictions (e.g. porn, video games, gambling, gossip). You can say no.
  5. Altruism: Not a complete jerk to people. Generally polite, usually or at least occasionally helpful and kind.

This is not to say that someone who is in danger of going under in one or more of those areas can not start following the program, but simply an acknowledgement that such a person will likely have a hard time with it.

On the other hand, such a program might end up being beneficial for such a person. I have been that person before, with appetites and habits that were wildly and dangerously out of control. It took such a program, and a lot of outside help to get me back on track, so I won’t say that you shouldn’t try the Basic Training level until after you get your life under control. That would be kind of like saying you can’t diet or exercise until you get your weight under control!

I will, however, make it clear that if you think this program or any other program will fix an addiction, or a dysfunctional mental or emotional habit, or any other major life issue, you are wrong. It won’t. Healing of persons comes only in the context of relationships, in my experience. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that any “healing” which comes about without a relationship, either with God or another human person, is likely to be a matter of merely trading one set of problems for another, and probably worse, set.

Do not think of this project as a self-help book, or a checklist that you need to accomplish. The actions and checkpoints are tools, meant to bring you into closer relationship with God and with other people. Even the Basic Training level which focuses on Self-Improvement, is buttressed by the relationship with God, and the relationship with Others. If you are checking the blocks, and not growing in intimacy in both of those relationships, then this program is not working, and you should drop it.

The program is a means, all of the actions are means. Only other persons can be ends.