If someone was to send me a link called - "How to become a Paladin in today's Modern Age" - I would go there and do it. I've always wanted to be a Paladin. There isn't a web site out there like that - so I decided to make one.
Since I was about 18 I've always tried to be a Paladin. Sometimes I do well, sometimes I've failed. I've wrestled a lot with what a Paladin should do in certain situations in today’s complex world. You certainly can't just jump off your horse and run a sword through someone any more. You can't take the law into your own hands. You can't slay dragons. You can't even rescue damsels in distress anymore unless they want to be rescued and you have the legal right to do so. And in today’s world it’s really much more PC to rescue "people in distress" anyway. And that whole fanatically pledged into service to a God thing... well that’s not working out real well for a whole lot of people right now. And that whole celibacy thing - yeah, not my Paladins.
In other words, I've been thinking about this a lot. For a long time. And I think I've finally got enough answers that people can follow my idea and when finished, actually think of themselves as Paladins.
But you can’t just wish yourself a Paladin of course. No more than you can just wish yourself a Doctor or a Marine or a Bullfighter. Nope. Everything has to have a path. Challenges to be overcome. Rules to follow. Rites of Passage that make you into a Paladin.
This path and these challenges will be combined basic moral tenets you are expected to follow, as well as physical and spiritual challenges you must complete. To be honest, I’m not sure if there are going to be 25 or 50 or possibly 100. This is an evolving process that as the years goes by, will eventually find its end. We’ll know when there are enough tasks and the list will be finalized.
I’m going to show you a sample of that list. This isn’t even close to a final version, but it will give you an idea of the premise. Each week, the list will be added to, and explained. Each entry will have a longer explanation about what the short sentence signifies.
Then I’m going to try and head off some questions with some answers.
1. You will heal the soul of the world.
2. You will not die doing these trials.
3. You will make up a will.
4. You will give to beggars.
5. You will not sit down on the subway.
6. Your good deeds will be done in the name of the Paladins.
7. You will do 100 pushups at one time.
8. You will be humble.
9. You will tolerate all other beliefs.
10. You will do 1000 pushups in one day.
11. You will donate $1000 to your favorite charity in the name of The Paladins.
12. You will take a one week vow of silence.
13. You will swim a body of water.
14. You will not judge. You will only help.
15. You will run a marathon.
16. You will get CPR certified.
17. You will get first aid certified.
18. You will fast for 3 days
25. (optional) You will get a 2 inch tattoo of a simple green sword placed somewhere on your body. This step must be done last, and may only be done after the other 24 tasks are complete. This signifies that you are now a Paladin.
Why are they “Wakefield’s” Paladins? Isn’t that quite a bit of hubris?
The reason this is called “Wakefield’s Paladins” is because this is my version of a Paladin. Other people might have their own ideas on what a Paladin is and they can come up with their own name – “George Clooney’s Paladins” or “Satan’s Paladins” or “The Catholic Paladins,” whatever. When I brought this up on my private boards many years ago, there were many ideas about what the trials could be. Some of them I agreed with, some I did not. Rather than hurt people’s feelings by not including their idea or make decisions by committee which requires lots of talking, possibly yelling, I decided that I would just use the ideas I liked and call them my Paladins.
What is the soul of the world?
In “Ravenheart” by David Gemmel, there was an interesting passage about the world. It put forth the idea that the world has a soul. Each act of kindness, love, compassion, each good act nourishes that soul. Each selfish act, cruelty, act of violence etc damages that soul; taints it and hurts it.
The reason this spoke to me, was because sometimes you do a good deed, no one knows about it, no one is inspired and no one cares. You don’t influence things for the better. Relative to that, the opportunity for grand, spontaneous acts of kindness or courage or selflessness are rare things. It’s hard to “do good” and feel like you’ve done anything. Especially in this world of suicide bombers, corrupt politicians, steroid using athletes… oh the examples are endless.
If you embrace this feeling, it makes you feel better about doing the good things you do. You take comfort in the fact, that even if your momentary kindness is immediately forgotten, that you have nourished the planet's soul. You could call the planets soul anything, Karma, good and evil, Yin and Yang. Whatever makes the most sense to you.
The important part is believing that each small act of kindness goes to a larger pool.
Wakefield’s Paladins aren’t dedicated to one religion. They are dedicated to just doing good deeds, doing the right thing, and trying to leave this world a little better for them having been in it.
Why the physical, mental and spiritual trials?
People like to test themselves. They watch "Tough Enough" and wonder if they could win. They watch Survivor and both long for and dread such an experience. How would they do if civilization was stripped away and they were left to their own devices? How strong are they really? Are they really heroes on the inside? What would they be like if they were really tested?
When I was in high school I took an anthropology class. One of the things that fascinated and troubled me was different cultures varying rites of passage. Such rites of passage are rapidly disappearing from the world, and have disappeared from most modern industrialized societies. As a young man, I was always looking to prove myself. I longed for a right of passage. You can’t just tell people “Act like this, and you’re a Paladin.” If there are not spiritual, mental and physical trials, then you haven’t done any rite of passage. Without a rite of passage, you can’t move beyond what you are.
Let’s finish this with a couple of expansions on the trials above. A simple one, then a more complex one.
4. You will give to beggars.
Not often and not a lot. And choose wisely. A young tough that’s half drunk comes up with his hand extended; you can brush by him if you want. But if you see a bent and shriveled old woman with her hand extended it doesn’t hurt to drop a silver coin into her weathered and wrinkled hand. I give my silver to the old, the infirm and the mentally ill.
14. You will not judge, you will only help.
When I was in college, I was very full of myself. I had gone from a 98 lb 5’3 wimp, into a slightly ripped but still skinny 5’11 college man. And I had a strong moral center and a lot of determination. I was sure that all of life’s problems could be solved by these two qualities. Anyone who messed up their life, well, they weren’t determined enough. They didn’t have strong morals. I had little pity for them. They had fucked up by not being “strong” enough. By not being determined enough. Not following their conscience. They must have ignored warnings signs that let them know they were wrong, and shouldn’t follow that course of action.
And then, as divine justice always works, it was my turn to fuck up.
It was a painful lesson. It changed my life. It hurt for years. I sought counseling. I saw Peter Pan and cried like a baby.
In the end, I found out it was necessary. I learned a lot. I became a better person. You might not have to go through that sort of thing to learn what I learned, but I’d like to pass that wisdom on to you and have you act on it, without having to go through the pain I did.
Don’t judge people. You are not in their shoes. You don’t know what they are thinking. You don’t know a lot of things. The only thing that matters is healing the soul of the world. Cause no harm. Just help.
For instance - a friend of mine has just gone through his third divorce. His family is disappointed in him. His friends can’t believe he has just left his third wife. And of course he has a new girlfriend.
As a Wakefield Paladin, you might care that he has just left his third wife. But you don’t judge him like everyone else is doing right at that very moment. If he is your friend, your job is to support him. You don’t know why he’s made the choices he’s made. You have to know that everyone else is already judging him, and you should not. You’re his friend.
He’s already made the choice.
Berating him for it, like his family and other friends, does not heal the soul of the world. It does not help your friend to be another person telling him he is wrong. Being his friend and doing your best to understand him and his choices heals the world. Even if it was the wrong choice (which it probably was) does he need another person to tell him that? No, he needs a friend.
Be that friend.
Each item on the list will be expanded in this manner. Some items on the above list will be deleted. Some will be revised. For now, this should give you an idea of what I'm talking about.