Movements to end modern day slavery have surged in recent years, and 21-year-old Zach Hunter has been at the forefront. But many times it’s easier to seek justice for the oppressed in other countries than to treat your own family and friends with honor and compassion. On this week’s Home School Heartbeat, Zach Hunter tells host Mike Smith what motivated him to address this problem.
Mike Smith: Our guest this week is Zach Hunter, a college student and modern-day abolitionist, who recently published his fourth book, Chivalry: The Quest for a Personal Code of Honor in an Unjust World. Zach, welcome to the program!
Zach Hunter: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here!
Mike: Zach, you launched yourself as an activist by starting an antislavery organization when you were only 12 years old. Can you share with us a little bit about yourself and your approach to life?
Zach: Absolutely. I think ever since I was very young I’ve always had a strong sense of justice. Through reading the Bible and growing up in a Christian home, I have sort of realized and observed the Biblical mandate to seek justice and rescue the oppressed. And I always thought that it wasn’t a suggestion, that it was a mandate. And, you know, following the example of Jesus, seeing how He treated people, I always felt like I was supposed to do something, to help people in the world, but I thought I’d been born a couple hundred years too late to fight injustice, because I thought surely there isn’t slavery left in the world. Found out that wasn’t the case when I was 12. And now, you know, I’m 21, and I have seen sort of this social justice thing come full circle, and that’s why I wrote the Chivalry book.
Mike: Well, Zach, thank you for sharing today, and I look forward to hearing more about you and your book, Chivalry. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: Zach Hunter, author of Chivalry, is with us today. Zach, many people think of shining knights on white horses when they hear the word chivalry. Is that a good impression, and what does chivalry stand for in your book?
Zach Hunter: That is definitely the image that a lot of people come up with, or they get an image of men pulling out chairs, opening doors for women, which are very good things. But that isn’t the kind of chivalry I’m talking about. I do use the Knight’s Code. I did some research, found a code of the knights translated into modern English that I used for this book. I narrowed it down to 10 different principles that we could apply to our lives today. They’re not rules to follow, but they’re things that if we studied, if we learned about, if we meditated on, we would be changed internally, and that’s what motivates, you know, who we are and what we do. So chivalry is really about who we are inside that causes us to live from our character, honor, integrity, and civility.
Mike: Zach’s book, Chivalry, is a great read for all of us: both men, women, boys, and girls of all ages. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: Zach, what inspired you to write a book about chivalry in the first place?
Zach Hunter: I wrote Chivalry largely from a point of a weakness, which I talk about throughout the book. It’s the most personal book of the three I’ve written. Basically, I realized that personally I was going through a problem that was seen a lot in my generation, because my generation cares a lot about hurting in the world, about the poor and the oppressed close to home and all around the world. But mostly all around the world, and I have seen people, and I was going through this myself, treating their family and friends like trash, just being horrible to people close to home, and at the same living a life that was very focused on seeking justice for the oppressed: people that we hadn’t even met. So that was why I wrote Chivalry, to promote that consistency, to talk about some really relevant principles from a really long time ago, because I think it’s time for something like this again. So I think and I hope this book can help people as much as it helped me; there’s a lot of, it was basically a healing process for me to write this book. For me, I was at sort of a rough time in my life.
Mike: Well, Zach, it’s very encouraging to see how you hold up honor, mercy, selflessness, and love as virtues for today. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: Zach, do you ever feel pressure from others to see if you live out the code of conduct you write about in Chivalry? How do you practice chivalry daily in your own life?
Zach Hunter: I think when people have a chance to read it there will probably be a lot more pressure on me to be a much better person than I am right now. Which is good, it’s not a bad thing at all. I feel that pressure, because these principles have as much to do with my faith and my personal philosophy and theology as they do with how the knights felt obligated to live. So I mean in each chapter I have a “how I do not have this down.” I am not perfect; I do not live these principles all the time. And now I’m trying to give other people grace, as well, in these areas. So hopefully, you know, I’ll get the same grace in turn. But I think, yeah, people will definitely hold me accountable since I’m writing a book about, honor, and since I haven’t always been super honorable. So, we’ll see, I think I’m going to have some new accountability partners out of this book.
Mike: Well, thank you for these thoughts, Zach. I know many of our listeners will be encouraged by what you’ve shared today. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: Zach, what is some wisdom you can share for us about how we can make a habit of chivalry?
Zach Hunter: I would say that forming a habit of chivalry is a process much the same as forming any other habit through repetition and through practice. But it’s a little bit different because it’s such a heart thing. It has to do with who you are mentally, spiritually. Who you are inside should inform, how you act, the universal you. So I would say that reading this book is a starting point and it’s by no means the end. But I believe that it will spur the necessary processes. I believe that it can be a catalyst for personal change basically through prayer, through reading, through talking to your friends who are deep feelers and thinkers about these principles and how to live them out, and people who have done it well, and people who haven’t done it well, and examples from your own life. I believe that internal change can happen, and that can affect how we treat people in our everyday lives so that the compassion and passion for justice that we exhibit for people halfway around the world will also be mirrored in our day-to-day lives.
Mike: Zach, these are very good words to remember, and I expect many of our listeners will benefit from your book. Thank you so much for joining us this week! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.