Gentleman | ˈdʒɛnt(ə)lmən |
noun (plural gentlemen)
1 a chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man: he behaved throughout like a perfect gentleman. • a man of good social position, especially one of wealth and leisure. • a man of noble birth attached to a royal household: a Gentleman of the Bedchamber.
2 a polite or formal way of referring to a man: opposite her, an old gentleman sat reading | can I help you, gentlemen? • used as a courteous title for a male fellow member of the House of Commons or the House of Representatives: the Right Honourable Gentleman opposite.
This is the dictionary definition of Gentleman, chivalrous, honorable, perfect, noble, polite, and courteous are some of the descriptive words, yet all too often people displaying these characteristics can be seen as nothing more than a nice guys or weak. The truth be told, to maintain a gentle heart and mind in today’s society takes a strength of character not many men possess, but every man has the potential to live by. But what is the difference between the man who uses his potential to be a Gentleman and the man who does not? in a word, Integrity.
Being Male is simply the chance of genetics, being a man is just a matter of time, yet being a Gentleman is a matter of choice, a decision, and having Integrity is the foundation of naturally possessing many Gentlemanly qualities by choice.
So what is integrity?
The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles: a gentleman of complete integrity. The state of being whole and undivided, think of structural Integrity. Would you cross a bridge that has no integrity, or drive in a car with no structural integrity? The Integrity of something defines its sturdiness, its ruggedness, its stability, and its reliability.
The very first step therefore in being a true Gentleman is a willingness to look at one’s self and grow in character.
Be willing to speak the truth, be willing to be honest, be willing to protect weaker people, be willing to own your mistakes, be willing to learn, be willing to let your love for life be strong, be willing to protect your love for humanity. If you find yourself resistant to being honest, helpful, kind, and considerate, then you are deficient in qualities that qualify you as a gentleman.
Standing in a cashpoint line you notice as the person in front of you walks away they have accidentally left £20 in the cashpoint. You have two choices, take their money for yourself (finders keepers), or call out to them and alert them of their error. Even if you do not believe in God or Karma, treating a person in the way you would wish to be treated will inspire you to alert the person. You do this not because “God is watching you” or “Karma will judge you”, but through a simple choice of putting yourself in that person’s shoes and acting the way you would want someone to act if you had left your money behind.
Some may argue ‘but I was hungry, and that £20 was exactly what I needed for food today, I see it as a gift from God.’ And that very well may be the case. I am not writing to judge or condemn anyone’s actions or motivations, but simply to point out the disciplined path of The Gentleman. Taking the money is the easy path, letting the rightful owner keep what is theirs requires a degree of selflessness. Not everyone is cut out to be a Gentleman, just as not everyone is cut out to be a monk, a soldier, or a firefighter*, however, if one chooses to be something it is only right if they know the requirements and standards of that thing they wish to be. The title “Gentleman” means absolutely nothing without the Spirit of a Gentleman, and that spirit is selfless and heroic. (*Note: I consider the profession of a firefighter selfless and heroic.)
I conclude the man who wishes to be a Gentleman must value his Integrity. He must be willing to cut off anything that compromises it.
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