What is a Gentleman? This is a question that promotes discussion in any circle of life. To some, a gentleman is an aristocrat of independent means, to others he is the kindly old family doctor. The word is everywhere, from designating which public toilet to use, to the opening line in most public speeches.
In the past, a gentleman was designated as a man of high social rank, usually wealthy. Today however, we argue any man can become a gentleman, as the decline of the feudal system has more or less eliminated arbitrary rank from most societies.
A gentleman therefore, is judged by his values, by his actions. The title is earned not inherited, a designation bestowed due to worth not birth.
There are common traits that a gentleman must have. We list what we believe a gentleman strives for below, and welcome constructive comments from our readers!
Is faithful and honest. Even in today's chaotic world, a man who's word is his bond is respected and a man who is faithful in every relationship - personal or otherwise - is a man that people want to be around. He is faithful above all to his beliefs.
Is dignified. A gentleman can conduct himself with dignity in any and all situations. Socially, he knows how to behave at all times. He realises that levity and jocularity are desirable traits at times, and yet uses them with discretion. He has good manners, and knows the correct etiquette for any given time or place.
Is kind. This is an important one. We must never forget that the epithet 'gentleman' is bestowed by others, not ourselves. We can only strive for it. A gentleman is respected, people want to be around him. Kindliness is absolutely necessary, not only to become a gentleman but in every walk of life.
Commands respect. Everywhere he goes, people recognise that "Here is a man, a gentleman I can trust."
Strives for continuous improvement. A gentleman does not rest on his laurels. He realises that we are all works in progress. While others stagnate, the gentleman improves. Each day is an opportunity for learning, for study, for self improvement.
Makes others feel comfortable. A gentleman has no arrogance. He respects others for what they are and what they can contribute rather than for what they have. Young children, poor people, old persons, the wealthy. Anybody and everybody is at home in his presence.
Is stylish. We have left this one until last as we believe that a gentleman is defined by who they are not what they wear. A truly stylish man may not be a gentleman. That being said, a true gentleman is always stylish.