After announcing that I was going to start this series of posts and posting the first one, I hit a mental wall. Where to start? There’s so much that I want my son to know about being a good man that there’s just no easy starting point. I sat on the train on the way home today, pondering this and trying to get ideas, but to no avail. I then sat on the bus, on the upper deck, thinking that the clearer air up there might inspire me. Nope.
Resigning myself to the fact that it might be a while before I was able to write a second article in the series, I started to walk home from the bus stop.
Suddenly, there it was, staring me right in the face! My muse had appeared! Well, my muse had appeared in the guise of a 17 year old with his pants so far down that I could see at least an inch of bare leg between where his boxers ended and his pants began. Walking along, looking at this young man walking ahead of me, I thought to myself “What an a**” and then immediately laughed out loud. Inspiration had arrived.
I realize that there are the proverbial “different strokes for different folks”, but walking around with your underwear fully exposed does, in my mind, cross the line between fashion and indecent exposure. Thus, the first thought on gentlemanliness I want to record for my son is this:
“Think first – how are your actions going to make others feel?”
While I do try to keep an open mind and see both sides of the coin, wearing your clothes like that is likely to deeply offend many more people than it impresses. That’s why a good man must think before each action. He needs to balance his personal desires against the affect his actions are going to have on everyone else around him.
If only that young man had gotten up this morning and thought “Am I going to offend more people than I impress if I walk around all day with my pants around my knees and my bum in the wind?” Then I wouldn’t have had to see a sight that actually made me consider turning around and walking an extra 1km to take the long way home, just so I didn’t have to walk behind him. If he’d put others’ feeling before his own, the elderly woman we passed going the other way wouldn’t have nearly given herself whiplash trying to avert her eyes. That young man encountered two people during that walk and neither one of us was interested or impressed by his choice of wardrobe. As I understand statistics, this means that 100% of the public in Canada don’t want to see other people’s underwear while walking down the street. Science proves it.
It’s not just about what he wears, it’s also about what he say and the actions he takes. By taking that moment to think “What are other people going to think? Am I going to offend anyone with my actions?”, he’ll ensure that his decisions and actions are the correct ones, the gentlemanly ones. By thinking like this, he’ll learn to empathize with people. With empathy comes compassion and gentleness. A good and gentle man must possess these qualities.
If all else fails though, I just hope that as my son grows into a man, he will take that minute to think “how many people want to see my underwear?” before cinching his belt 1/4 inch above his knees.