The gentleman still exists. He may be hidden from sight, but he’s there, waiting for his moment. You might not recognize him behind the GQ logo, he smirks when he hears “chivalry is dead,” he finds humor in the nice guys who have turned his title into a service position, and he ignores pick-up artists because he’s no amateur. He watches kingdoms come and go, but he always remains, always relevant and powerfully humble.
The gentleman began his journey as a boy. Somewhere in the recesses of his kid heart, a powerful desire grew to embark on an adventure, fight a dragon, and rescue a princess. He was nurtured by resolute men, and known by the most powerful One. When he came into his own, he touched history, and despite the Enemy’s best attempts to destroy him, we’ve seen him time and time again. His ways are eternal.
The gentleman was always there. He defended churches in the Middle Ages, campaigned against and abolished slavery, gave up his lifeboat seat to women and children on the Titanic, rescued Jews from Nazi clutches, stood tall and brave in the fight for civil rights, helped after every natural disaster, and ran up many flights before the Twin Towers fell into dust. His efforts are often unnoticed, but not once has he ever asked for recognition. He’s an unsung hero. He’s content ringing a bell outside Wal-Mart on a cold winter’s day.
The Evolution & History of the Gentleman
To describe the gentleman is easy, but to define him is impossible.
Instead of getting caught up in deep etymology of the word “gentleman”, let’s just say he’s gentle, meaning kind or good; and he’s a man, meaning he was born with the appropriate organs and he’s courageous and brave.
At one point, you could only be a gentleman by birth. In The Image of the English Gentleman in Twentieth Century Literature, Dr. Christine Berberich states, “The term ‘gentleman’ was first used in 1413 when, as George Sitwell explains, ‘we begin to meet in the public records with husbandmen, yeomen, and occasionally with a franklin or gentleman, but it was long before the new fashion of calling oneself a gentleman came into general use.” To be a gentleman meant you were born into a class with an identifying coat of arms, etc.
Over the years, the term was given to any man who had the right manners and conduct. What started out as a trait birthed through family, gave way to an open acceptance of refinement and becoming a better man. The knight progressed from being the valor on the battlefield to being a distinguished and self-controlled man in the public eye.
The Reason Behind Etiquette
The gentleman invented etiquette.
Some of the common courtesies guys extend on dates have history behind them. Many of them evolved over thousands of years, from formalized courting of a lady to middle class citizens emulating the elite. Why was it considered proper to open a door for a lady? Should the same rules apply today?