Debates rage around what makes up a gentleman’s life as roles are being redefined in our world. Joe Rutland suggests that being a gentleman is still hip.
If any man or woman ever tells you that being a gentleman is not cool or good, then I want you to tell them, “Thank you for your information and goodbye.”
Why? Because it just isn’t true.
Gentlemen do still exist in our world today. Of course, these gentlemen are not tidy, neat, all put together and sweet every single minute. They, much like what others would consider a “bad guy,” have their issues.
By the way, what does labeling a man have to do with anything?
Gentlemen seem to get a bad rap about being kind, considerate, and caring. Gentlemen are known for opening doors for their girlfriends, wives or partners, pulling out chairs at dinner tables for them, offering roses as a sign of affection, and maybe even paying a little extra for that nice bottle of champagne.
Look at the landscape of society today and there are plenty of examples.
Sometimes, it takes hindsight to appreciate them.
As I write this piece, a few hours earlier on Sunday news spread around the world of ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott’s death from cancer at age 49. Words like gentleman, icon and others were shared not only by his contemporaries in the sports broadcasting business but those outside of it as well. Many remember seeing Scott and his ESPN on-air partner, Rich Eisen (now with The NFL Network), share those late-night “SportsCenter” moments in a similar light as a decade earlier when Robin Roberts (another cancer fighter herself) and Charley Steiner (now with the Los Angeles Dodgers) would absolutely crack up and laugh.
Mind you, there are plenty of other well-named writers and well-written stories on Scott and his death, so I’m choosing to let other voices speak for that subject. Yet Scott, by all accounts, was a gentleman.
Gentlemen are in hospitals, churches, synagogues, mosques, police stations, nature trails, sitting in homeless shelters, and behind the counters of a convenience store.
By the way, it really does not matter the sexual orientation of a man when using the word. If you believe differently, then that is your choice. Personal experience has shown me differently. We can agree to disagree.
The word “gentle” stands out when the full word is brought up. Is a man gentle? Not always. It does not mean that a gentleman is weak, although that would be the sense many people have when calling someone by this moniker.
A gentleman is, yes, gentle. He’s fully aware of his strengths and weaknesses. A gentleman has the ability to cry and show emotion. Again, gentlemen are human … not robots. I have yet to see a gentleman who acts like a robot get far in life without breaking down. Yes, they may have the fine social standing, the million-dollar home, the by-God-bigger-than-Texas bank account … but what really makes their insides peaceful and serene? A gentleman is tender and supportive. It makes him totally distraught when he sees others in pain.
Wait a second. Maybe I am projecting a bunch of stuff upon men that really is not true.
Maybe the term is outdated. Maybe there really are not gentlemen left on the planet. Maybe there are none at all. Yeah, there are no gentlemen who are in politics, social circles, city governments, religious organizations, spiritual groups. None who are garbage collectors, bill collectors, lawyers, scientists, doctors, etc. Just pick a profession and let’s just make a blanket statement that there are no gentlemen or ladies, either, in there.
How unfair that would be.
“But Joe,” the voice from another realm said. “You’re not a gentleman yourself, so why are you writing about it?”
Garbage! I am a gentleman. Am I a saint? Oh hell no.
It should not have to take one man’s death to have a whole society look around and ask where all the gentlemen have gone.
Each day, a man can look in the mirror and ask himself if he loved deeply, cared compassionately, gave up his grudges and resentments, looked outside and appreciated the sunshine and moonlight, gotten all he could out of his day, then get some sleep for another trip around the sun.
At night, there are many people who work … from nurses to home health practitioners to street cleaners. Are there not gentlemen in these roles? Yes, there are.
What about the guy behind the mike at a 24-hour fast-food joint? Is he a gentleman? Deep down inside … probably so.
As I write this, I’m sitting next to a desk with about an inch-thick pile of bills and I’m a few days behind on rent. Does that identify me as less of a man? No.
Gentlemen, yes I admit, should have a better handle on their entire life’s issues … financial, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Maybe a gentleman doesn’t care about one or the other … just hit the “big ones” and it’ll be OK.
There are gentlemen who watch over young children at night who suffer from cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.
It should also be said that gentlemen are fighters and warriors for deep causes. Whatever moves their hearts and souls to speak up for those without a voice, these are gentlemen, too. Some may see these men as out of control and, oh boy, there are lots of examples of that behavior. There are examples of men that take heart-centered actions and appreciate their efforts … whether they agree or disagree with the cause.
This week, as we go about our lives in whatever country we live in, take a look around and notice the gentlemen in your world. Watch their actions. Better yet, watch their feet and see where they go.
May we all strive to leave our paths a little kinder, loving and compassionate for the next man … and the next man … and the next man.
Photo: Graham Campbell/Flickr