We’ve long said that March comes in and goes out inversely like a Lion or a Lamb. The thought of being one or the other may be a bit frightening for men. Especially in a culture that no longer appreciates the fierce and bold virtues that once marked manhood.
Being a gentleman does not mean that a man gives up his strength – that a man is a pansy.
Interestingly enough, my grandmother always told me that a pansy was actually a tough flower. It could stand against the cold, and grow in pretty adverse conditions… it still though has a reputation for being “girly” – and the flower’s name has been embedded culturally to imply weakness or a lack of masculinity.
Men – to be a gentleman is a noble calling. It means that you treat people with respect. That you demonstrate politeness, it may mean that you are neat in your appearance, and that you have earned a degree of respect for your knowledge, your artistic abilities, your ability with words, with numbers, or some other “civilized” skill.
You might also be a lumberjack, a rig hand, or a truck drive, and be a gentleman in the way you interact with people.
But there’s definitely an element of respect shown and received, based on a degree of civility.
This civility does not erase the wild, passionate strength that lies in a man’s heart. A gentleman can hold his own in a bout of fisticuffs or fencing. He can heft a child on to his shoulders, pick up his bride to carry her over the threshhold, and defend the tender things he holds dear with ferocity and strength.
My thoughts on this are two-fold.
1. Just because you wear a tie to work, or drive a minivan, or eat kale – does not exempt you from the wilder side of manhood. Make sure that you know how to defend yourself and the things and people you love. Make sure you keep your physical body strong and ready to perform.
2. Inversely, just because you are a strong and brave, do not neglect the tender touches needed in civilized life. Say Please and Thank you. Snuggle with your children. Read poetry. These things do not affect your ability to be manly. In fact, I believe they enhance them.