Greetings, fellow castaways on the distant shores of the mind. This week, I want to take a look at a lost art, a form our modern culture has told you is "old-fashioned," "out of style," "archaic," or out of line with this modern, "enlightened" culture. It's art of being a man. More specifically, a gentleman.
Gentlemen are labeled these days a male chauvinists. Groups like Promise Keepers are dragged through mud, nit-picked to death, bullied and scorned. The going image is one of knuckle-dragging brutes, dominating and overlording their spouses and children, perpetuating male domination to the detriment of everyone else.
Well, I've been to a Promise Keepers function, and I can tell you it's nothing like that. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. It's a holding accountable of every man to a high standard of conduct honoring and cherishing his partner and children. Paul's letter to Ephesus lays it down in no uncertain terms: Ephesians 5:25 says this: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Loving my wife in that context means laying down my entire life to protect and honor her. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Being a gentleman is NOT outdated. It's more important than ever that every man learn what it means to be a man. Androgyny may be the fashion, but it's not conducive to a functional society. There are rules for courtesy for a reason. They keep a society from falling apart and devouring itself like a suicidal cannibal. And if there is going to be a United States, or any other country, left in fifty years, we need to reestablish rules of courtesy by which we can get along. And we all need to get along. Look at Facebook if you don't believe me.
Change has to start somewhere, folks. It can be a little thing in the beginning, and it can grow. So, to quote Michael Jackson, I'm starting with the Man in the Mirror. That means I'm defining to myself what it means to be a gentleman. I'll let you see why in a moment.
1.) A gentleman knows when to hold his tongue. That means clamping my mouth shut rather than respond to the latest hate-post from Bernie Sanders. As much as I growl and seethe, Sometimes I just have to clench and look away. Especially if saying something would be the same thing as throwing a diamond to a gorilla. Some people will not be convinced, no matter what I say or how many times I repeat it. So I'm just going to shut up and walk on. Some fights just are not worth the headache and backlash you're going to generate by jumping in. If everyone on Facebook would just shut the hell up one extra time per day, the internet will be a safer and more civil place by at least 1%.
2.) A gentleman honors and protects a woman's dignity. Period. Not that a woman can't defend her own honor. It's a respect thing. And while we're talking respect, how about I respect other men as well? Everyone is worthy of honor and respect, until they prove themselves to be otherwise. That means no name-calling, period. Terms like "stupid," "wacko," "nut-job," and "clown" will not cross my lips, as much as I want to launch out.
3.) A gentleman won't take the first punch, unless his life or safety is in direct jeopardy. If he does have to take that punch, he makes it count. A gentleman is not a wimp. He knows when to walk away, which is always. If he's cornered, he takes every option necessary to win his way out of it, for his own safety and anyone else with him. He fights to get out of the situation, and knows rules of engagement are out the window when lives are on the line. He will always place himself between evil and the innocent.
4.) A gentleman places others before himself. He lays his own life down for the sake of his wife and children. He provides for them, protects them, and makes himself accountable to them.
5.) A gentleman allows room for disagreement without condemnation. He does not judge people on what they do or don't believe, on their appearance including skin color, or on their actions. He allows room for the Ultimate Judge to render judgment. He does not compromise his own beliefs or faith, but he does not appoint himself as the Last Prophet, standing on the hilltop and pointing fingers. Because he himself is no better a person than anyone else.
The bottom line is this: I'm talking to that man in the mirror. I'm holding him accountable to a higher standard of behavior, one that makes peace with those with whom he deals, on all fronts. It might mean he has to be a little less opinionated, a little more restrained. But if I'm going to make this Civility thing work, I have to start somewhere.
Who's with me?