Categories
Behaviour Values

What does it mean to be a modern gentleman?

The word gentleman has a long history, and the meaning of the word has changed throughout the ages. Our society has changed greatly in the last 50 years, yet when some people think of a gentleman, the image that pops up is usually someone from the 19th, or the first half of the 20th century.

The liberation of women, the equality movement and not least the #metoo movement have brought a lot of good. It has pointed out and in some cases helped us get rid of some toxic male behaviours. It has given women more power and opportunities.

While the purpose of these movements have been to ensure that toxic masculine behaviour is no longer tolerated, it has failed to strengthen the positive aspects of masculinity.

Or, rather, it hasn’t failed. It was never it’s purpose. It’s up to us to define what it is being a man today. And especially what it means to be a modern gentleman.

History of the word gentleman

Originally, a gentleman was the lowest rank of the landed gentry of England, ranking below an esquire and above a yeoman; by definition, the rank of gentleman comprised the younger sons of the younger sons of peers, and the younger sons of a baronet, a knight, and an esquire, in perpetual succession.

As such, the connotation of the term gentleman captures the common denominator of gentility (and often a coat of arms); a right shared by the peerage and the gentry, the constituent classes of the British nobility.

Yeah, the English hierarchy of social statuses is confusing, I know. But it gets easier.

The word gentleman as an indicator of rank had already become of doubtful value before the great political and social changes of the 19th century gave the word a wider, more informal meaning. The change of meaning of the world can be seen through the successive editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica:

In the 5th edition (1815), “a gentleman is one, who without any title, bears a coat of arms, or whose ancestors have been freemen.”

In the 7th edition (1845) it still implies a definite social status: “All above the rank of yeomen.”

In the 8th edition (1856), this is still defined in similar words as in the 5th edition, but the writer adds, “By courtesy this title is generally accorded to all persons above the rank of common tradesmen when their manners are indicative of a certain amount of refinement and intelligence.”

And from the mid 19th century and onwards, gentlemen has more and more come to be related to behaviour than heritage, slowly morphing into how the word is used today.

A modern definition

A gentleman is a man who treats others, both men and women, regardless of their standing, in a respectful manner and not taking advantage, pushing or manipulatong others into doing things that are not in their best interest. In other words, it’s OK to push someone to for example seek medical care or pursuing their dreams, but not pushing or manipulating someone to do you favours.

This also has some implications, for instance that:

  • Don’t take your anger or frustrations out on others.
  • That you don’t discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, sexual preference or anything else.
  • That you listen to others more than you speak.
  • That you don’t brag, boast or belittle others.
  • That you dress and act in order to feel comfortable rather than to impress.
  • That, especially as a leader, you inspire and encourage rather than command and demand.
  • That you own up to your mistakes
  • That you forgive the mistakes of others
  • That you are awesome!
Categories
Gastronomy Health Values

Meat, less meat or no meat?

There is a great debate currently going on, whether you should eat meat, reduce the amount of meat you eat (“flexetarian”), go vegetarian or completely vegan, for the climate and for your health. But should you?

The facts

There are two main arguments to eating less meat. The impact on climate and the impact on your health. So let’s dissect these arguments.

The carbon footprint of meat and dairy

Food accounts for 10%-30% of a household’s income. Typically, this figure is higher in lower-income households.

Out of that, meats account for approximately 57% and Dairy 18%.

Not all meats are created equal

While the carbon dioxide release for beef is almost 7 pounds per serving, and Legumes generate only 0.11 pounds per serving, switching from beef to pork (1.72 pounds per serving) or chicken (1.26 pounds per serving) will have a greater impact on your carbon footprint than switching from chicken to legumes.

This means that there are some carbon footprint savings that you could do by switching from beef or eating less meat.

On the whole, though, agriculture only accounts for about 8% of all carbon emmissions, so the savings are limited. Transportation, Energy and Manufacturing account for 70%, so it might be better to stop buying useless crap from China on Wish than to ditch that cheeseburger.

Source: University of Michigan

The impact of meat on your health

There are both benefits and risks of switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet. The benefits include slightly less risk of cardiac events and cancer in vegetarians, but the science is still unclear, and the links are weak.

At the same time, if not managing their diet properly, especially vegans can risk getting insufficient amounts of vitamin B12, Iron, Zinc and Omega-3. While rare, if the diet is not managed, there is also a slight risk of protein deficiency.

In other words, the research is unclear, but there might be a link between eating less meat and better health.

Source: Harvard

Is it immoral to eat meat?

Morality is a complex issue, and there are philosophical arguments both ways.

One thing that seems to be nearly universal, though, is that causing unnecessary suffering in animals is wrong. From that, one could draw the conclusion that if choosing to eat meat, it’s better to opt for free ranged and/or organic meat than factory farmed.

It also tends to taste better anyway.

You decide

Ultimately, you decide your own diet. You have to weigh the risks, benefits and ethical issues.

The important thing, though is that the choice is personal. Whether you decide to eat meat, become a flexetarian, vegetarian or vegan, it is a personal choice, and it doesn’t make you morally superior to anyone else, so live and let live, and let everyone else make their choices as well.

Enjoy your meal!

Categories
Values

5 traits of a gentleman

Being a modern gentleman comes from inside. Anyone can dress sharp and look like a gentleman, but what really matters are your core values and how you apply them when you interact with people around you.

If you dress well to show off, rather than to make the people around you comfortable and at ease, or if you care more about how you are percieved than doing the right thing, you might find that few people will genuinely refer to you as a gentleman.

It’s very hard to keep up an act and, even if successful, it won’t make you happy. You will constantly feel like a poser.

If you, on the other hand, work on your core values, your behaviour will automatically and effortlessly reflect them.

So, let’s jump right in. What are the top five traits of a gentleman?

1. Integrity

Integrity is a personal quality of fairness that we all should aspire to.

Having integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way.

It means having a moral compass that doesn’t waver and is based on the well-meaning of yourself and of others.

2. Responsibility

Being responsible first and foremost means that you take responsibility for your actions.

It’s human to make mistakes. We all do them. At work. In our relationships. In traffic.

Some people try to hide their mistakes or even blame them on someone else in order to keep up the appearance of being perfect and without faults.

A gentleman, however, always owns up to his mistakes. He admits when he has done wrong and does what he can to correct the error.

3. Respect

All human being deserves to be treated respectfully. It doesn’t matter if they are your superiors, inferiors or equals. It also goes for people that doesn’t treat you with the respect you deserve.

Lead with example and you will see that the more respect you show others, the more respect they will show you.

4. Competence

We live in a time where we are told that if we are just confident, we can accomplish anything. Unfortunately, this is not true.

If you were to jump out of a plane with a parachute strapped to your back, would you rather be confident than competent?

The truth is that confidence without competence is overconfidence. It will often lead to feelings of entitledment and frustrations. And while it might help you climb the corporate ladder to a certain degree, it’s like climbing a ladder that is not secured on a stable foundation.

Sooner or later the ladder will slip and you will fall.

The gentleman’s approach is therefore to focus on being competent, rather than confident, in whatever endavour he will pursue. If you do your homework, learn what you need to learn and put in the hours of practice needed, confidence will automatically follow.

And because the confidence is based on a solid foundation of competence, the ladder will be much more stable.

5. Emotional maturity

Emotional maturity is a complex issue, but a simplified explanation could be something like the art of acknowledging your emotions, and making them work for you instead of against you.

While this is the hardest trait to master, in some ways it’s also the most important trait of a gentleman.

Emotions are complex things. If you let them control you, you will lose control of your life, and it will be hard to remain reliable and dependable.

On the other hand, it’s not wise to ignore them either, as they are excellent clues to what is going on and how it makes you feel.

The secret to master them is to realize that they contain information that is aimed for you. If, for instance, someone does something that makes you angry, you are not really angry at the person or the thing they did.

The anger is triggered inside you, not as a result of the person or their action, but as your reaction. If you don’t believe me, think of it this way; depending on your mood, the same action by the same person can trigger a wide range of emotions in you.

As a gentleman, you should listen to your emotions, but not act on them. If you gets angry, you don’t take it out on the other person, because that person is not responsible for your anger.

So what should a gentleman do?

Well, while it differs from situation to situation, in general a gentleman would:

  1. Acknowledge the emotion
  2. Figure out what triggered the emotion and what it’s trying to tell you.
  3. Deal with the issue and the person in an adequate, respectful way.
  4. Deal with the emotion and learn from it internally, separated from the issue and the person.
Categories
Behaviour Values

How a gentleman treats his inferiors

Unless you are self-sufficient and live by yourself on an island, you need to serve others and you need to be served by others. This is true no matter if you are a waiter, carpenter, blogger or king.

Most people tend to treat their superiors with respect. If not for other reasons, but because they depend on making at least a decent impression on their boss and clients to keep their jobs.

Unfortunately, this is not always true when the roles are reversed. Many people treat their inferiors – people they manage, suppliers, waitresses and store clerks very differently from how they treat their superiors.

This behaviour tells one very important thing about them. They don’t care about other people. At least not enough to treat them with basic human decency. They only care about themselves.

They only treat people well when they have something to gain. Not because it’s the right thing to do.

While it’s impossible to stay away from such people, you need to keep them at a distance and they can’t be trusted. They will only treat you well as long as they think that they have something to gain from it. As soon as they don’t, they will treat you the same way they threat that waitress when the food arrives late.

On the contrary, a gentleman treats everyone with respect because he believes that everyone deserve it.

A gentleman is one who treats his inferiors with the greatest courtesy, justice and consideration, and who exacts the same treatment from his superiors.

New York Daily News, 1902.

Remember that words such as superior, inferior or equal are social constructs, and that they only apply to certain situations or contexts. You might be someone’s boss, but that only means that you are suporior to him in your current proffessional relationship. It doesn’t say anything about who is more superior or inferior in other contexts or what your future relation might be.

With this in mind, it’s easy to realize that you shouldn’t take out your frustrations on a waitress because she mixed up your order any more than you should take out your frustrations on your boss if he tells you last minute that you to do something you don’t want to do.

Put yourself in their shoes

Let’s say you’re in a restaurant and something goes wrong with the order. You don’t know what went wrong. It might not have been the waitresses fault. Or it could have been, but you don’t know why she messed it up.

She could be incompetent. If so, it’s probably because she is new. Shw could also be having a bad day. Maybe she didn’t get enough sleep. She might have worked late last night and worked a second job in the morning.

You have no idea.

Either way, you will neither benefit her nor yourself by throwing a hissy-fit. You will only make a fool out of yourself.

It’s easy

Just calmly and discreetly let her know about the situation and how you want it handled. If it was her fault, she will know and she will feel bad about it enough as it is, and no matter what, you will both keep your dignity intact.

Do the same with the people you manage, your suppliers and everyone else around you.

As a gentleman, you should never – in any circumstance – raise your voice at an inferior. It’s destructive and it just shows that you are not man enough to handle the situation.

Categories
Values

Is it OK to use the N-word as a white man?

The N-word is heavily used in some black cultures, and as some aspects, such as rap music become more and more mainstream, it’s a very valid question to ask; Why can’t I, as a white man, use the N-word, when black people use it all the time?

The short answer is, unsurprisingly, ‘No’.

Well, that was easy. Or was it? Is it really that simple? Aren’t there exceptions? And why we’re at it…why not?

Well, of course it’s never as simple as the short answers. There are exceptions. But the default answer stands. In almost all situations, it’s not acceptable to use the N-word at all.

But why?

Well, it’s simple really. It is a word that has a history that carry connotations of slavery, oppression and disrespect.

But if black people use it, isn’t that dual standards?

No. And there are several reasons for this. I will not list them all. Instead, I will focus on the most important one:

Not all black people use the term. While you may or may not offend those who use it themselves, you most definitely will offend those who don’t.

See, black people are not one homogenous group. They are individuals with very different backgrounds. They come from all classes of society and have different levels of education and sophistication. Just like any other group of people, they get offended by different things and for different reasons.

There is not one black culture any more than there is one white culture.

Simply using the argument that “they use it” is derogatory, disrespectful and perhaps even racist, because it implies that they are a homogenous group and not individuals.

So when is it ok?

Well, there are basically only two circumstances. If you are singing along to music by black musicians it would just be silly to insert beeps whenever there is the N-word.

It is also, of course, ok to quote others using the word, if it’s done in a respectful way.

Other than that, don’t use it. Unless you are Quentin fucking Tarantino. Then you are excempt from all rules regarding the N-word.