Sunday, December 18, 2011

True Gentleman: Good Will and Propriety

The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety

            Throughout my life I’ve been reminded of how one never gets a second chance to make a first impression. The importance of that first encounter one has with another person will be the meeting that makes all encounters pale in comparison. The importance of this phenomenon has been passed down from generation to generation – so much so that most people believe that how impressive you present yourself during that first interaction is all there is to winning someone’s favor.
While I do believe that it’s important to make a favorable first impression – especially if that’s the only impression you will be able to make – every interaction that we have with other people is another opportunity to leave a lasting impression on that individual. The first impression is one that can set you up for success or failure but it’s the last impression you leave with that someone that they will remember the most. If that person comes away feeling good about having interacted with you then you will have made a good impression on that person regardless of the number of times you have interacted.
            Your conduct is what makes the deepest impression that will be left upon the hearts and minds of the people with whom you develop relationships. The True Gentleman’s conduct flows out of a desire to do well in any situation. It does not flow from the simplistic desire to gain another’s favor but is more deeply rooted in the genuine desire to live a disciplined, well-mannered, and humble life. He wants to do good things because his heart is motivated by the pure enjoyment and excitement of sharing in experiences that will benefit and lift up his fellow man. There is a sense of right morality.
What is right morality? It seems that in times of political correctness, post-modernism, and social relativism a greater portion of our world believes that each society within the larger frame of the world picture has its own moral code. Each code is relative to that particular society. And even more so, each individual within that society is afforded the opportunity to live by their own chosen code. The idea of “absolutes” becomes an archaic ideology at best and more often is a punch line for those seeking to undermine the moral infrastructure an ordered society requires to remain a leader – a contributing influence on the international and global scene.

C. S. Lewis writes,
“It seems, then, that if we are to think about morality, we must think of all three departments: relations between man and man: things inside each man: and relations between man and the power that made him. We can all co-operate in the first one. Disagreements begin with the second and become serious with the third. It is in dealing with the third that the main differences between Christians and non-Christian morality come out.”

Conduct and right morality have set the stage for the True Gentleman but can we leave them alone in the spotlight? No because we are ultimately attempting to establish definitions of “good will” and “propriety.” It would be safe to assume that in American culture, the mention of good will most often brings to mind one’s opportunity to buy clothing at a discounted price. This has not always been the case. Good will is defined as, “A kindly feeling of approval and support,” as well as, “willing effort.”[1] For example, it is only by man’s good will to his fellow man that more wars are not fought throughout this world. Merriam-Webster goes on to define propriety as the “quality or state of being proper or suitable” and “conformity to what is socially acceptable in conduct or speech.”[2]For example, when attending a function of the State, there are certain proprieties that must be followed.
“The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety.” Stated again, the True Gentleman is the man whose outward conduct reflects an inner life of kindness, love and support of others, willingness to go above and beyond – selflessness, and proper demeanor in any situation. Though he sees situations through his own eyes, he does not live for himself. He lives for a much larger purpose than he alone could ever be. Contemporary society does not teach its young men to live like this. We teach our young men to be self-serving. We teach our young men to fear no one – especially their Creator!

[1]      accessed December 18, 2011.
[2]      accessed December 18, 2011.

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