LOVE. A gentleman always displays love. Love of self, love of others and their successes This is no small feat. It is based not just on his feelings but also his principles. It will balance him to be empathetic at all times, yet firm when necessary. This means that he needs to learn to conquer the things that would stand in the way of him giving it to other persons, or prevent him from receiving it.
In this day of snarky cynicism, where most persons are singularly self-centered out of the need to protect their own emotions, the pursuit of a long-term relationship is often elusive for some and for others a seemingly endless unattainable delusion. Dating & the lost art of courtship is reduced to Facebook “likes” and replies, Twitter DM’s, IM web cams, MMS pictures, text messaging, and an endless list of phone chat-lines. Face to face communication has almost become an entirely awkward exercise. How many times have you been out on a date with someone who had such a trouble with just basic conversation or couldn’t get past a ridiculous and poorly executed pick up line? Some men are either obnoxiously over-confident or ridiculously skittish & intimidated by smart, successful single women. Thus, some cringe at the thought at going to the club-bar-lounge because of the dozens that frequent these places looking for some semblance of connections only to be disappointed the morning after. The social rituals we have created at these places are so convoluted and confusing that we need books to tell us when they’re “Just not into us.” Consequently, we have become disdainfully indifferent , leaving our hearts secretly scarred and moving us farther from the very thing that we all need the most…LOVE.
“All men should learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber
Socially speaking, men are having a tough time of it (I know women have it just as hard, maybe even harder but for the sake of this discussion we will give one to the men here) they’re expected to be (in their own minds) the initiator of dating, courtship, bread winning, etc. Of course this is an old fashion and archaic viewpoint. However, in the age of the 21st century-single ladies (put a ring on it) woman who makes her own money, are heads of households, may have her own home, buying largely her own luxury items i.e. handbags, jewelry etc. Men are now feeling forced to re-examine who they are and what they thought they could even bring to the table as a potential suitor. We live in a world that encourages us to display a haughty, arrogant, aggressive and often disrespectful attitude. Movies & TV programs fill the airwaves with depiction of male Rappers & Rock stars dominate and objectify women, or star as contestant on some far away island trying to vie for some Darwinian supremacy. Jobs often demand that we work long hours, take leadership courses that will make us become better breadwinners. We read men’s magazines that sometimes promote an unattainable standard of living, full of expensive wine, gorgeous women and chilled soundtracks to match these aspirations. Compound this with the rising unemployment rate among men in the U.S. at around 8% it’s no wonder why some are becoming a just a little insecure. All this takes an untold emotional toll on us, a sort of quiet internal struggle to come to terms with many preconceived ideas and illusionary notions on love and relationships. Our family dynamics, our experiences will obviously shape how we view this important issue. It is a characteristic that for some, is difficult to express let alone master, and for others one of the fundamental characteristic that stands in the way of one truly experiencing the most intimate of connections. Because it is the first quality that one needs to develop, it is important to show what type of love a man needs to develop, why it is the foundation to a powerful sense of self and a prelude to unlocking the FULL potential to becoming a well-rounded male.
“There must be a stronger foundation than mere friendship or sexual attraction. Unconditional love, agape love, will not be swayed by time or circumstances. ”
— Stephen Kendrick
There are many different types of love: Agápe, Storgé, Philía and Éros. Philía is based on similarity of personal likes and dislikes, and most friendships are based on this. Storgé is the love based on family relationships. And of course Éros is the love based on sex attraction. #TGM (The Gentlemen’s Movement) focuses on the first and most powerful: Agápe. Agápe is defined by Encarta dictionary as “Love that is wholly selfless and spiritual” it has to do with the mind. It’s not just simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts. It’s based on principal. Agápe is sort of conquest of one’s mind & heart; you have to go against your natural inclination. MLK, Gandhi and best of all The Master Gentleman Jesus taught us this. It may be easy to display love for our friends, family, or to have intimate attraction for someone. But to show Agápe, or principle love is often difficult because it means you will show love to someone who you may or may not have an affinity for, or may make it tricky for you to do so. It’s the type of love that prevents us from getting or staying in abusive relationships, the type of love that conquers the lusts and selfish urges we may have inside ourselves. It’s based not solely on emotion, but on principle.
“Agape is disinterested love… . Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes… . Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friend and enemy; it is directed toward both.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Does this mean that Agape love negates or dismisses emotion? No, although it is firmly rooted in spirit and principal, a man who develops this type of love will find the active balance of expression with the power of reason. Agape love is not cold, aloof or indifferent. Rather, it is warm, engaging and responsive. It’s the most profound & balanced form of love. For men, developing this quality is no small feat. It requires focus. It requires that you learn to conquer the things that would stand in the way of you giving or from receiving it. Family values & personal experiences have to be re-examined and seen through the corrective lens of Agape love. Issues with our self-esteem and past relationships will have to be addressed to be able to move forward in our current and future relationships with others. Agape love will give you the ability to look beyond the scars of the past or present and still be able to display empathy & kindness. It will also give you the ability to see when it is time to let go of relationships that threaten our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual safety. This is the reason that it MUST be tackled first. In order to successfully be able to develop the other three attributes that we will discuss in coming posts: Justice, Wisdom & Power, one has to come to terms with the sheer magnitude of getting this quality spot on.
“I will be a man who openly and actively attracts Love. Love of self, love of those who befriend me and those who are strangers to me. I will passionately remove all obstacles that prevent me from giving or receiving this quality.”
The next quality we will discuss is Justice. It is the second attribute that men need to be proficient at displaying and will improve our relationships with others.