The dictionary definition of “gentleman” states thus:
1. A man of gentle or noble birth or superior social position.
2. A well-mannered and considerate man with high standards of proper behavior.
3. A man of independent means who does not need to have a wage-paying job.
I’m getting an image of Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite fond of Mr. Darcy. I’m not opposed to either men with manners or those of independent means. ‘Superior social status’ is where I begin to feel uncomfortable.
Allow me to re-define “gentleman” and to say that I have, in fact, known a score of real gentlemen. I’ll further qualify the below definition as being my own opinion. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was at Findhorn Community where the facilitator of a workshop I was attending allowed us to make “I” statements only.
A gentleman is one who:
1. Carries himself with a quiet but palpable confidence of his own place in the scheme of things (this has nothing to do with social status nor financial means)
2. Is well mannered, and speaks well of and to women.
3. Offers his unique skills to women and men equally, when the occasion calls for. (Yes, like opening doors for us and carting the groceries in)
4. Kindness is his motto: to the planet, children, women, men, et al.