What it means to be a gentleman
The word gentleman has more connotations than it does definitions. It is important to clearly define what it means to be a gentleman, and to rid our minds of the mixed up messages we have often attached to the word.
I remember as a boy, well-meaning women teachers would use the word “gentlemen” to try to convince a class full of rowdy boys to sit still and be quiet.
Some boys, enthralled by the compliment of being referred to as “men” compiled. Most boys, offended at being called “gentle” didn’t comply.
I was often in the second category.
The word also conjures a cartoony picture of a gentlemen of the Victorian era, in suit and bow tie, with a monocle and his hair parted in the middle.
He is not Popeye, Fred Flintstone or Yosemite Sam. He isn’t heroic or strong. He responds to tough circumstances with fear, or at best, really bad boxing form.
To this charicature, being gentle means being week.
To be a gentleman is not about being proper or mannered, or pedigreed or less likely to fight.
To be a gentlemen means to have honor… we give things and people the proper value, and treat them in a way that shows honor to their value.
That means showing courtesy and politeness when it matters.
That means showing respect where it is due.
That means treating people with kindness, and in some cases tenderness.
It also means defending that honor when sometime shows dishonor.
To be a gentleman is a choice to live in a way that shows honor, and return then deserves honor.