Friday, 15 June 2018

Is there any such thing as a Modern Gentleman?

‘You are a true Gent,’ is a phrase we are all familiar with. The old lady stepping off the train with your help, the potential girlfriend as you take her coat for her in the restaurant, the lorry driver who was taken aback when you asked if your car was in his way. With a slight bow of the head in thanks we move on with our day without any more analysis or contemplation. A phrase that we all take as a compliment, but have you considered that being a ‘modern gentleman’ in Britain is not only an admirable title, but an essential one?

Consider the current definition in the Oxford English Dictionary:

Gentleman; Noun. 

  • Chivalrous, courteous or honourable man
  • Man of good sociable position, especially of wealth and leisure
  • Man of noble birth
  • Polite or formal way of referring to a man

The latter description, I’m sure you will agree, is the most common description that we use today. With all that said and done, you can easily think of men who do not subscribe to the title of ‘Gentlemen,’ some may be in your social circle, a family member or a colleague. 

So, why labour this point? The above descriptions have become abstract concepts; out of date and irrelevant in todays British society, but with some careful re-definitions we can introduce the concept into our social circles and make good of ourselves and others. 

Consider also, current bullying statistics in schools and in the workplace. If the new generation were bought up with a gentleman ideology then perhaps society would take a leap in the right direction. 

How did you feel when you helped someone off the train? How did you feel when you were gossiping about a women in your office? It’s a natural urge as a human to want to help people and we feel good when we do so. Gossiping about that woman in your office might make you feel involved, superior or cool, but did it ever make you feel good? When we are kind to others, our brain releases a happy drug called ‘Dopamine’ which makes us feel far better than being the gossiper.

You may have heard of dopamine before in articles about drugs and social media. This is our in-built feel good system, which can be heightened by drugs, bought to heel by anxiety and exacerbated by social media. Too much makes you feel like you can take on the world, which is always a recipe for disaster, but too little can make your feel depressed, anxious and/or paranoid. The right amount can always be found by doing small good deeds each day. 

I would therefore like to offer the following as a new definition:

Gentleman; Noun
  • Chivalrous, courteous or thoughtful man
  • Man of good social attitude, especially towards women
  • Man who is self-deprecating/self-critical
  • Man who is creative and original in his thinking
  • Polite or formal way of referring to a man

A gentleman doesn’t have to be wealthy, white or of a noble birth. A gentleman is not born, in my judgement, he is grown by way of education. I would encourage any man, regardless of age, to stop and think when someone calls you a ‘Gent.’ Ask yourself; why did they call you that, what did you do and how do you feel about it? 

I genuinely believe that reintroducing an improved gentleman etiquette to our young men will improve social attitudes and respect for one another which may only be small but a good step towards reducing racists behaviour, crime and discrimination on all levels. 


So Gentlemen, what do you think? 

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