Friday, September 25, 2009


"The gentleman is a man of truth, lord of his own actions, and expressing that lordship in his behavior; not in any manner dependent or servile, either on persons, or opinions, or possessions."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a rare joke that Adam in trying to show himself a Perfect Gentleman when, seeing what his wife, Eve had done, he bit back the bitter words he might have said, and then-he too-took a bite of the apple: but alas! How far he fell immediately afterward, when he stammered his pitiable explanation that the woman tempted him and he did eat!

The actual story behind this joke could possibly raise a number of questions about Adam’s character. Was Adam trying to be a type of a truly admirable character to his wife when he ate the apple his wife gave him without any question, even though he knew that it was forbidden by their creator to eat of the fruit of that tree? I believe that one of the greatest tests of a man’s character is how he responds when temptations are suggested to him through the people he loves most. These loved ones may in any case mean no harm or even perhaps mean the best of affection while unknowingly being a vehicle of temptation to the man. The true gentleman must respond, but in all gentleness, except the occasion calls for a sharp rebuke! He must possess the wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong and while always trying to do what is right, albeit with much tact. A reminder of the timeless wise caution to all men: “be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.”

It is well said that real men are marked by how they stand for what they believe. They follow a clear conscience in their decisions and aspire to be found honorable and upright by abiding by strong principles no matter what others say. They have the courage to do what is right and to try new things even when it is hard or costly. They build and guard their reputation they do not lose heart if they fail or don’t get what they want in a certain venture; rather they are bold enough to persist while learning from their past mistakes.

A true gentleman will tell the truth, first to himself and then to everyone else and in all circumstances, nothing but the truth. He is always forthright and candid in his dealings with all men and is willing to be found naïve in such acts as lying, cheating, stealing, sneaky or deceptive behaviour. Such gentlemen honor their word and are committed to being dependable. When gentlemen borrow, they return what they have borrowed and pay their debts in due time. They do not procrastinate and are found to be punctual at all occasions they are invited. These are men who stand by and protect their family, friends, school and country. They are such fellows who cherish friendships and look out for those who care about them. They do not betray a trust and would rather forgive an offence quickly; however, they would not do anything just so others will like them, because they live by principles which are truly divine.

When a man treats fellow men the way he wants to be treated, he has fulfilled the ‘Golden Rule’ – “do unto others as you would want them to do to you”. Real men respect the dignity, privacy and freedom of all individuals. They value and honor all people, no matter what they can do for them or to them. They understand the importance of respect for other peoples’ property and take good care of property they are allowed to use; they don’t take or use peoples’ property without permission. The respect for the autonomy of other people’s choices is acknowledged by men of character, they tell them what they should know to make good choices about their own lives instead of imposing their opinions. They don’t use or manipulate others or abuse, demean or mistreat anyone. Their judgment of others is based on character, abilities, and conduct without regard to race, religion, gender, where they live, how they dress or the amount of money they have. They learn to be tolerant, respectful and accepting of those who are different from them. They listen to others and try to understand varying points of views and resolve disagreements peacefully, without responding to insults or resorting to anger and violence.

Stanley Walker once said that if you, “associate with well-mannered persons your manners will improve. Run around with decent folk and your own decent instincts will be strengthened.” Therefore every gentleman must learn to use good manners, be courteous, polite and civil to everyone. A gentleman must never use put-downs, insults or ridicule to embarrass or hurt others.

How can a true gentleman recognize himself? It’s not going to be by reflection alone, but also through action. Every man who aspires to be great must therefore begin at once to do their duty in their station in life and immediately he will know what is inside him. It is the moral duty of gentlemen to accept responsibility for the consequences of their choices, not only for what they do but also for what they don’t do. They must think about consequences on themselves and others before they act. They must set a good example and think long-term in every endeavor, and they must do whatever they can do to make things better wherever they find themselves. Real men don’t look the other way when they can make a difference and they don’t make excuses or blame others when they fail to make a difference.

An important call of men today is to make all they do worthy of honour and emulation, to take charge of their own life and by setting realistic goals they will keep a positive outlook. Hence, it is noble for men to be prudent and self-disciplined with their health, emotions, time and money. By learning to know the difference between what he has a right to do and what is right to do, a man will become self-reliant and manage his life so he is not dependent on others. Nevertheless, good men do not miss an opportunity to help people in need without strings attached, just for the sake of making someone else’s life better, not for praise or gratitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said that, “Men of character are the conscience of the society to which they belong." Accordingly, true gentlemen are found to be good citizens and good neighbors. They care about and pursue the common good of all. They cultivate a taste for cleanliness and order and readily volunteer to help their community become better, cleaner and safer. These men of noble character participate in making things better by voicing their opinion, voting, serving on committees, reporting wrongdoing and paying taxes. They know how to play by and live by the rules. They are the ones who have learnt to obey parents, teachers, coaches and others who have been given authority over them. By observing just laws, they honor and respect principles of democracy in their nations. These are the men in every nation and tribe who are daily being transformed from the fallen nature of Adam to the risen nature of Jesus Christ – the Perfect Gentleman.

*For further reading, please click the following links:

Uche Aneke


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