The Notion of a Modern Gentleman
I heard an interesting definition of 'Gentleman' the other day; it was explained as a man who does all he can to ensure that others are comfortable. For the record, I think this definition extends to 'Ladies' as well. I began to think about modern day chivalry, manners and expectation. Manners are seeming to rapidly disappear. It's not just about opening the door for a woman for fear of having translated as an attack on feminism, au contraire, feminism teaches us that all should be equal, meaning we should treat others as we would like to be treated. I think being a Lady or Gentleman comes down to being consciously contentious of others.
Perhaps because I am French but live in London, I notice cultural differences more apparently. Certain practices that we (the French) regard as proper manners are a given within our society. Maybe because these are more institutionalised in our culture I notice their absence when I am in America or England, for example. I am not saying our way is better, but there are certain social interactions that always occur. For Example: The KissKiss. In France, depending upon where you are, you are socially obligated to greet an acquaintance, friend, relative or arch enemy with anywhere from one to what seems like 14 bisous on each cheek. Depending on region, this can be very time consuming if you are meeting a group of 15 friends but it is expected and it is done. Customs change and perhaps this will not be something that goes on forever, but the fundamental point of the KissKiss is to acknowledge someone, which I find, at it's core, terribly sweet. It's better to greet everyone equally, rather than some but not others. Manners and tradition, I believe, for the most part are rooted in good intentions. It's these good intentions that we must remember make us Ladies and Gentleman. It's not about using the correct spoon and fork with the fish course. Chivalry is helping some one in need. Making others comfortable in whatever capacity you can. As a parent, I am doing my children a huge favor when I teach him the importance of kindness and manners, while he is still young. Like a language, it's much hard to learn good manners when you are older. Manners are habits essentially, that can be tweaked in adulthood and made more conscientious and more filled with intent but as they say "once a whiner, always a whiner". We do our children a disservice if we don't do our best to give them the tools to be in charge of themselves and their behavior.
My Personal Guidelines for the Modern Gentleman:
Compliment people whenever a positive thought of them crosses your mind- but this must be genuine.
If you see some one struggling, whether with groceries, directions or hunger, ask yourself in what small way your can your actions help.
Speak with some one at a party that seems they are on their own or bring them into a conversation.
Teach your children to think of others and compliment them when they do.
Speak as kindly to your partner and family as you would to a client or business partner.
Stand up for people you see them experiencing injustice. Silence is compliance
Say 'please' and 'thank you', please.