Many people have heard of it, but what is it? If searching for a definition you will find a varied selection of opinions, some even by those living in the South. There will be similarities of the obvious. I thought I would take a moment to give a few of my own thoughts seeing as how I characterize myself as a Southern Gentleman.
An obvious requirement would first for one to have been born in the southern United States. This excludes anything west of the state of Louisiana, that being the state where New Orleans is located. Being born in a southern state does not mean you are born as a Southern Gentleman nor does it guarantee you will become one, but there is a great chance that you will acquire many of the required characteristics simply by soaking up the atmosphere around you.
Being this is in part a definition of me, I will focus on those characteristics that seem to be to the fore front in myself or perhaps what I see as those aspects I strive to achieve. These characteristics include; Romanticism, Courtesy, Respect, Learning, and Awareness. Be aware that there is a difference between a Gentleman of the Old South Southern Gentleman and the New South.
Although some of the more genteel characteristics are shared between Old and New there are some of the more intellectual and philosophical ones that differ greatly. I will not dredge up the errors of the past in that I did not live in that age, although I experienced some of the hangover from it.
- Romanticism: The Southern Gentleman is a romantic to the core. He looks upon God’s deliverance of woman as the pinnacle of all creation ever to occur in the universe. She was created as the only true companion of man and thus artfully designed to be admired in all ways by man. This includes not only form, but function and intellect as well. The Southern Gentleman sees the miracle in the shape of an eye and the elegance of hand. The heart of a Southern Gentleman is in a constant state of upheaval and turmoil in the awe inspiring majesty of the master artist.
- Courtesy: The Southern Gentleman holds doors for ladies, the elderly, and man alike. It is not uncommon that once a door is held open for the Southern Gentleman to remain in position for several people that he doesn’t even know. He will also quicken his pace in order that a woman will not need open a door herself, even if he does not know her. This extends to stepping forward and bagging groceries for the elderly or the woman with a child. We take grocery carts from ladies, the elderly and the child laden once they are emptied at cars so the people will not have to make the trip themselves. A smile and a nod of polite greeting are nature even for those never met.
- Respect: The Southern Gentleman respects the dignity of Human Life. Once not a prerequisite but now something of obviousness, the Southern Gentleman sees mankind as mankind, not kinds of man. The human race is the human race not races of humans. We recognize the greatness of the various and readily give open admiration for those warranted.
- Learning: Intelligence, knowledge, and understanding are of great importance to the Southern Gentleman. Not only do the three lead to wisdom but also comprehension of the world and its various cultures. He is not one who is tolerant, no. The Southern Gentleman is one who understands and respects. Tolerance is a different word and gives one a sense of a lack of respect and understanding. “I tolerate you, but don’t like you.” The Southern Gentleman says, “I understand and respect you, and I love you as God’s creation and an intelligent being, but I may still not agree with you.”
- Awareness: The Southern Gentleman is aware of the state of society and the feelings and emotions surrounding him. With a glance he will be able to deduce a problem. He is in tune with the mood of the moment. Even by listening or reading a choice of words he can determine what kind of day you have had and know how to go from there.
- Empathy: Many of the characteristics would not serve one as a Southern Gentleman without the ability to feel for the person in moments of need and then respond as needed. He has a heart that is worn on his sleeve thinly veiled, but easily found.
Some may say that they match the characteristics but there is more to it than just that. There is that indescribable something that permeates a Southern Gentleman. Perhaps it is the easy way in which it all comes together. Or maybe it is just the slow southern accent that makes it all something special. The Southern Gentleman doesn’t rush the world. And the world knows not to rush the Southern Gentleman.
As you have read this, and now that it’s complete, you may have a better understanding of me. I was raised in the Magnolia state. And although I live in another Southern state now, known for Gone with the Wind, in truth Magnolia is about as Southern as you can be.
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