The most profound things, the philosophical underpinnings having to do with right and wrong, good and evil, are best put simply, at least at first. They have too many layers for complex explanations in the beginning. When people really try to understand them they must relate themselves to questions about what honor is and more. This is a personal quest. If someone tries to do this for another person, at least too much, they’ll muddle the deeper points, as they must express their own points of view, experiences, and biases to explain. Soon the person being taught will misunderstand or even rebel as they correctly realize that this person isn’t the living embodiment of all this do-as-I-say advice. This is why a good guide shows the way, but also lets a person think and learn for themselves.
Good books, or speeches, on character walk this line. There are very few good books that do this well. Rules for a Knight is one of the few. It begins with the simple premise: feed the good parts of yourself and you’ll grow better, healthier; feed the bad parts and you’ll grow worse, unhealthier. This is old advice from people like Aristotle, Cicero, and Mencius. This timeless advice needs to be remembered is this age of moral relativism.
This little, but profound book, is then structured with rules—parts of the ideal. Ethan Hawke has said he wrote this for his children. Once upon a time the Roman orator and politician Cicero wrote On Duties for this son. I wrote The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide for mine and have a narrative-driven story on this topic coming out later this year. Rules for a Knight from Ethan Hawke is another book I will read to my son.