At First, There was a Caveman.
He got along fine where the most important skill-set was being able to chase down small animals and club them to death in order to feed the tribe (and more importantly: impress the Cavewoman).
Times change. Human society progresses. Fast forward to circa 2016. Today there are choices. Men (mostly) have options to choose who they want to be and how they want to present themselves. A caveman is still an appealing option for many. Metrosexual for others. There are many shades in-between. Isn’t it great? A Gentleman is one choice. The word itself “gentleman” probably conjures up various meanings to each of us. In fact in the world where Western music icons offer up regular tracks and music videos promoting misogyny and (less than, shall we say, legal behavior), there is a valid argument that the idea of the honorable “gentleman” has fallen out of fashion today. Why? Well, first we have to look at what it means to be a gentleman.
Rewind: Circa 1580. Shakespeare’s writing The Taming of the Shrew:
" Petruchio: I swear I’ll cuff you if you strike again."
" Katharine: So may you lose your arms: If you strike me, you are no gentleman"
— The Taming of the Shrew, Act II
The literary allusion is to the inseparability of having a coat of arms and being a gentleman. Like many English words “gentleman” is derived from Latin ( belonging to a race or genes, and man meaning, well — man). In its original context, the word referred to one of the lowest ranks of the English aristocracy, fitting below an esquire but above a yeoman. The etymology evolved during the huge political and social changes the 19th century wrought — an evolution that can be easily traced in the Encyclopædia Britannica. In the 5th Shakespeare’s works are full of gentlemanly (and un-gentlemanly) behavior edition of 1815 “a gentleman is one, who without any title, bears a coat of arms, or whose ancestors have been freemen.” By the 8th edition (1856) the term is now “generally accorded to all persons above the rank of common tradesmen when their manners are indicative of a certain amount of refinement and intelligence.” Today you don’t need a coat of arms on a wall. Or to originate from any particular social class background. Today, the Collins Online Dictionary defines a gentleman as “man who is cultured, courteous, and well-educated.” Macmillan Dictionary Online offers a similar definition “a man who is always polite and honest and considers other people’s needs.” Today, anyone can be a gentleman. If they want to be.
This book is meant to work as a guide for the modern man who aspires to be a gentleman. It’s not meant to be a definitive, rigid, must-do list of hoops you must leap through in order to call yourself a gentleman. Because being a gentleman isn’t some act or performance to turn on or off. Being a gentleman could instead be thought of as a lifestyle and a way of “living well.” So this book instead exists to offer some ideas, spring- boards, thoughts to trigger your thoughts. It’s a reference you can return to.
Being a gentleman definitely, doesn’t mean becoming an entirely different person. Everyone should take on what suits their lifestyle and be the gentleman that they want to be, for themselves and others.
A gentleman most of all — is an individual. We all live two lives, Inner and Outer. The Inner life comprises our thoughts, feelings, and faith. This is the part of us known only to ourselves. The Outer Life is what everyone else sees. Our image, actions, and words. In our interaction with the world, a true gentleman is one who is in control of his Outer, bringing out the best from within himself. Think of life as a race track. Think of the Inner Life as you in the car. And think of the Outer Life as your car. When on the race track you want to achieve your best. So, you need to make sure your car has the best that you can afford in terms of engine, suspension, aerodynamic body, and overall performance and looks. Like having a well-maintained high-performance race car can improve your performance on a track, being a true gentleman can get you further in life, faster and open more doors — professionally and personally.