ColumnistsGolden Years

The lost art of being a gentleman

#MeToo reveals a growing breach in our culture

By Harold Miller

The dictionary defines a gentleman as a chivalrous, courteous, honorable man.

But there is much more to it than that.

The true gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will; whose self-control is equal to all emergencies, who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity.

Beyond this, a gentleman always walks a woman home. He does not pack her off alone in an Uber. A gentleman is always good to women because he has his own dignity and is aware of their dignity.

He is never pushy, manipulative, or belittling. It goes deeper — the polite gentleman always stands when a woman, or an older person, enters the room. He always opens the door or keeps the door open for anyone behind or adjacent to him while entering a building. Being a gentleman involves not only manners, but morals as well.

Being a gentleman isn’t about what you do or what you wear — it’s about how you behave and who you are. A gentleman holds chivalry in great regard. He gives up his seat for a lady, takes off his coat for her on a cold evening, and always puts her comfort foremost.

Sometimes it is difficult to be gentlemanly today when fewer of the women today are ladylike. While it is true that our modern social media has worked against decorum, dignity, and self-control for both genders, respect for the opposite sex is still in style – or should be if not.

#MeToo movement builds awareness

The #MeToo epidemic has revealed that when fame and fortune strike the egotistical, chauvinistic male be it a politician, business tycoon, or movie star they think that they can get away with anything and have their way with anyone. Yesterday’s wolf has become today’s rapist.

Social, technological and cultural revolutions have overcome our country.

The family has disintegrated through divorce, unwed childbearing, and fatherless sons and daughters. In other words, there are very few fathers around to teach their sons how to be gentlemen and few mothers have the time to teach their daughters to be ladylike.

Instead of being brought up, half of today’s children just grow up. As the saying goes, “most of what a child learns is caught, not taught.”

Our country needs more than parents to raise our children. America needs grandparents to teach the lessons learned in the first half of the 20th century (this is where we 55-plussers come in). We’ve been so swept up by the social, technological, cultural revolutions, and the role that men and women play that there is total confusion. Where will the next generations learn the social graces?

As a footnote, we mourn the recent passing of Billy Graham, the greatest gentleman and preacher of our time. For many hours a day seven days a week he preached to vast throngs throughout the world. Graham was consular to most of the presidents of his day and respected by all faiths. Hollywood saw a leading man and offered him a multi-million dollar movie contract.

Graham laughed and said, “I wouldn’t do it for a million a month.” His sermons were always about following the teachings of the bible in your everyday life. If this were done, every man would automatically be a gentleman and every woman would be a lady.

Think of it — if all the men in our world were gentlemen, there would be no wars, there would be no killings, there would be no famine, and the marvelous technologies developed in the 21st century would only be used to foster mankind. Think of it!