To be absolutely certain, the emotional and mental anguish is undeniable. And sometimes the anguish manifests itself physically – scars indelibly, indiscriminately tattooing the body. It is a pain that enjoys a perpetual downpour of torrential hate; roots strengthening its grasp within the fertile soil of the human spirit, rendering it barren of dignity or hope. Starved of equality and justice, our humanity has become emaciated from being forcibly fed prejudice, privilege, and hate. To be absolutely certain, it is an exhausting exercise of suffering. However, we should never allow ourselves to become so starved for justice and equality that we become equal participants in the deprivation of our own humanity. The oppressed should never adopt the identity or ideology of the oppressor. We should never debase our ethics and morality to achieve a perceived modicum of equal footing. Because, once that choice is made, the reason behind the mission is compromised. To be unambiguous, we should never acquiesce to indignant ignorance, idiocy, and ill will. The expectation is daunting, and honestly, the burden of righteousness and virtue should not lie with the persecuted. Yet, I call upon you to stand fierce in righteousness, honor, and goodness. Do not be mistaken, moral strength and conviction can be righteously weaponized to strike down animus, and dismantle systemic injustice that is intentionally injurious to the under-served and disenfranchised. Hold firm to your integrity and values, as our will must be stronger than the status quo of moral corruption, we stand steadfast and will overcome.
Despite modern, progressive viewpoints regarding the construct of masculinity here in America; society at large is sometimes guilty of perpetuating and reinforcing stereotypes that it seemingly discourages. It is an interesting bit of hypocrisy. I found it particularly amusing when popular men’s magazines – looking at you GQ – had the temerity to lecture men about the perceived current disrepair of manhood while completely ignoring their culpability and literary sins regarding the topic. It wasn’t long ago that men’s fashion didn’t fawn over the wildly popular show Mad Men and its resident alpha male Don Draper. Mad Men – toxic masculinity personified but stylishly portrayed with critical acclaim. From the appearance of the latest GQ offerings, I surmise that it isn’t trendy anymore. Oh, how soon they forget. Now, I won’t pretend there aren’t bad actors out there that don’t represent the best of the male population. They are great in number. Yet those men have become the archetype for all things toxic, negative, and dysfunctional about men as a whole. Lost in the shuffle of a culture war (waged across social media, television, publications, etc.) revolving around gender roles and expectations; we are ignorant of a sect of regular gentlemen that is perhaps more indicative of manhood than what is portrayed in the mainstream – invisible to the general public.
Sandwiched between two conflicting arguments stands an average gentleman just trying to make the best of life. He hears the competing perspectives, but he cannot relate. It is foreign to him. What are they? Well, he cannot cry because he would be considered weak. And he cannot become frustrated because his exasperation may lead to anger, which may lead to a violent conclusion which men are intimately tied. He cannot be fearful or anxious because that may reflect indecision, and a man should be resolute and certain. Male fragility is not an option. And so we are presented with a how-to guide regarding an evolved masculinity for the modern man. Everyone has an opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, to be quite frank, a gentleman does not need to be more feminine to fulfill his potential as a man. And a gentleman does not have to blanket himself in a facade of machismo to be fully considered a man. It’s all opinion. It’s an attempt to fix what people deemed to be broken. The truth is, the only thing a gentleman requires is the freedom to be human – free of preconditioned judgment and inequitable expectations.
To be sure, emotions are not black & white, no, they are perplexing shades of complicated gray. The current pandemic will definitely tap into every one of those shades. A gentleman must understand that his emotions cannot be dictated by other people. Because the same individual that espouses platitudes about self-esteem and mental health across social media will be the same individual that casts belittling judgment. A gentleman must understand that his emotions are his own and they are valid. Your standing as a man is not predicated on the opinionated whims of the fickle public. Yes, this Fear. Anxiety. Frustration. And yes, a gentleman may be moved to tears. A gentleman should never attempt to meet expectations set forth by an individual that cannot satisfy those same expectations themselves. Reject labels forced upon you that betray your well-being. It can become mentally and emotionally draining. Allow yourself a healthy, confident embrace of your inner emotions; remain true and honest to your identity to achieve a better you.
To be sure, the thoughtful gentleman understands that every moment of significance carries meaning. Moments matter. This is especially true for the gentleman that has embarked upon the journey of fatherhood. Understandably, the journey is an arduous one, replete with important occasions that beg the focused attention and participation of a father. This is non-negotiable. Hopefully, this active role fosters an intimate relationship between father and child grounded in an appreciation and love exclusive to both involved parties. For example, approximately three years ago, my daughter was experiencing respiratory distress that prompted an expeditious visit to the emergency room. My wife needed to be home with our newborn son since, ironically, a hospital isn’t the best spot for a newborn outside of the initial birth. So I stayed with my daughter through a series of evaluations and treatments until she was discharged.
During the entirety of the event, I provided a calming and reassuring presence for her, as you can expect the circumstances would be quite frightening to a two-year-old. Now, some may think it odd, but I took pictures and videos during our stay in the hospital. I wanted to capture this moment in time; this moment that further strengthened our bond as father and daughter. To her, I was her protector – a source of depended comfort and safety. To me, she was my ward – simply my little baby girl. I had to be there for her. And every now and again – three years later – I still look at pictures and videos from those days we shared together. And upon viewing them, the emotions from that day come flooding back – in a positive way. Despite the circumstances, I cherish that time we shared together.
Now, I don’t assert that a father and child need to experience an extreme event to form a healthy, caring connection. However, I am asserting that a father should never shy away from moments with his kid(s), no matter how large or small. And he should embrace opportunity fully and make the most of it. Sure, a gentleman probably won’t engage in every waking event, but an honest effort is definitely demanded. There possibly can be a myriad of chances at a gentleman’s disposal: attending a recital, helping with homework, attending children’s school events, etc. Do not be mistaken, inaction is actually a conscious action. Gentlemen, as fathers, ensure the present-day with your kids isn’t a missed opportunity that becomes a distant past that you regret in the future. Make the most of your moments now!
The wise gentleman recognizes that success is never a perpetual certainty, as the unpleasant experience of failure is an inevitable reality. Trust, disappointment is but one of many catalysts for personal growth and development. No one is immune to letdowns and adversity. To be certain, born of failure and disappointment, one’s professional character is forged with steeled resolve and resilience. Acceptance of one’s shortcoming, and then courageously demonstrating the required perseverance to secure success; this is the first crucial step in one’s professional maturation. Trust, it is a challenging and painful process – without a shadow of doubt. The emotional and mental investment is substantial. Anger. Fear. Doubt. Mistrust.
These emotions can be turned outward, inward, or both simultaneously. If success is the desired outcome for the gentleman, harnessing said emotions to positively drive toward his goals is paramount. These feelings, albeit perfectly natural, can be debilitating if left unchecked. Accomplishing one’s professional objectives is never an easy journey, but it is a journey nonetheless – replete with unexpected and sometimes crushing setbacks. A gentleman should never make that journey more difficult than it has to be or give up on it entirely. Instead, embrace it, stand back and objectively view your circumstances with unbiased eyes. What were some takeaways from the situation? What can you do differently going forward? What did you learn about yourself? The answers to these questions will set up a proper approach to effectively and rationally handle disappointment while positioning yourself to capture personal victory.
To be absolutely sure, the world in which we exist is painfully flawed, replete with the best moral and ethical failings that mankind has to offer. Now, the wise gentleman comprehends that unnecessary energy expended toward circumstances that cannot be unconditionally rectified, nor altered is an exercise in futility. Moreover, the wise gentleman also comprehends that he cannot burden himself with the weight of impossibility – indelible moral sins that stain the woven fabric of our humanity. Nevertheless, a gentleman can intelligently wield whatever influence he possesses to assuage challenging and distressing conditions that he may encounter.
One gentleman may not be able to resolve the issue of homelessness, however, he can donate to a local shelter or champion a clothing drive. One gentleman may not be able to eradicate racial workplace bias, however, he can smartly utilize his voice to challenge preexisting discrimination and prejudice. One gentleman may not be able to mend the broken spirits of every at-risk youth, however, he can dedicate much-needed time to mentor or volunteer with a local charity. A wise gentleman does not become discouraged or disenchanted due to the seemingly enormous effort required to confront the difficult complexities that society presents. Regardless of what the problem may be, he simply does what is righteous and just because that is what an honorable and principled gentleman is called to do.
An emotionally intelligent gentleman fully understands that the regular practice of deep introspection is vitally crucial to personal learning and growth. Affording oneself a quiet interval of thoughtful reflection is a fantastic opportunity to reveal truth and awareness critical to your development. If but for a brief moment, freedom from the daily rigor of life can open a personal alertness that can cleanse and rejuvenate the mental faculties. A gentleman can thoughtfully evaluate his state of affairs, calculate the necessary adjustments if required, and determine the best course of action to facilitate progression.
Now, the personal objective of sequestering time may present itself as an implausible, almost impossible feat. However, that is certainly not a reality that a gentleman should allow himself to be deceived. Procuring time can be as simple as silencing the radio during your commute to work. It can be as easy as allowing temporary disconnection from social media to concentrate on yourself, or as painless as momentarily shunning television programming – do not fret, DVR has you covered. All of that is to say: Time is available and ready to be smartly utilized. One cannot underestimate the importance of proper maintenance to one’s mental and spiritual state. The time is now, start today.
The knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. When he gazes into the mirror, the reflection of greatness should readily greet him. It does not begin with the clothing he chooses to attire himself in, nor the vehicle he selects to navigate city streets. Not the place of employment where he makes a living. Not the amount of money presently residing in his bank account. Why? Well, because character starts with his self-worth. His esteem is not erected upon a mountain of biodegradable materialism – subject to decay and waste. No, the gentleman’s image is based on gentlemanly fundamentals that are concrete and certain. Virtue. Honor. Principle. Forthrightness. The Gentlemen’s Standard.
An honorable gentleman fully comprehends the concept of exhibiting class, sympathy, and compassion. During episodes of great tragedy or human misery, the humane gentleman believes in charity and generosity. It is second nature. The considerate gentleman does not greedily seize upon the opportunity to criticize, politicize, or monetize unfortunate realities. His moral fiber is fortified with virtue and humility. He understands that the weight of life may prove too great for some individuals to bear. Alas, he has been blessed with robust shoulders that can bear life’s burdens, and that fact is not lost on him. He is blessed to be a blessing to those in need. Because, benevolence is a character trait that is not foreign to him, nor is it casually minimized. It is far too easy, agonizingly too simple to take what life has pleasantly afforded us for granted. Sometimes, perspective becomes distorted when the lens has become clouded with prosperity. Allow your wisdom to correct your focus. Your current situation could be dramatically different-and not in a good way. Be thankful. And always remember to assist others who may be in need. It could be you that requires the empathetic generosity of a stranger one day.