“Camelot” has always been one of my all-time favorite musicals. I’ve probably seen it half a dozen times or so at various theatres over the years, so I was delighted when I heard it was coming back to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. I attended last Saturday night’s performance, and loved every second of it – which I expected.

I also expected to be singing and humming songs from the show for the next few days, and I was. It’s hard not to. But what I didn’t expect was that over the next few days I’d suddenly start thinking of “Camelot” in relation to life today.

Even if you’re not familiar with the show, you’ve probably heard of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Sword Excalibur. Legend has it that Arthur was recognized as the rightful king of England after he did what no other person had been able to do: pull the sword from the stone in which it had been embedded.

The point of the Round Table was that everyone seated around it was seen as equal. There was no head of the table, and no places of honor or prestige, or special seating for people to fight over or aspire to. To even be at the table in the first place, the knights in King Arthur’s court had to be of the highest character, adhering to strict codes of honor, courage, courtesy and compassion. This was known back then as chivalry.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I consider what chivalry would mean in today’s world. Think about the effects in areas such as business, politics, sports, or even life in general, if chivalry were the code of conduct by which we all lived. I’m having a hard time even imagining what it would be like, but I’m pretty sure it would be an improvement.

Think about businesses that based their success not on their bottom line, but on how much and how well their products and services improved the lives of their customers and clients. Imagine athletes competing fearlessly and ferociously on the field, but without ever considering the use of performance-enhancing drugs, or taking their aggression out anywhere but in the sports arena.

And just think what our airwaves and headlines would be like if honor, courtesy and compassion were required and expected of all political candidates and their campaigns. It seems to me that if all the money, energy, and strategies spent on elections were instead spent on solving our problems, we’d probably have a lot fewer of them than we do now. But the more important point is that chivalry would dictate that the goal of all politicians would be to help and protect people – all people, no matter where their place was at the table.

I know that a world such as this could never really exist. It is as fictional as the legend of King Arthur and the Round Table. Yet it is – as another fictional character once said – the stuff that dreams are made of. Wonderful, ambitious dreams. And stunning, spectacular shows like “Camelot.”

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on October 20, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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