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05.05.2024

Why Achieving True Gentleman Status is a Multigenerational Pursuit

By laying the groundwork of good character and laying the foundation for future generations, we contribute to a lineage of individuals who can one day fully embrace the true essence of gentlemanly conduct - a man of true class.

By Raja Izz

Picture: YAM Tunku Naquiyuddin – Executive Chairman & YM Tunku Mohamed Alauddin – Managing Director, Antah Healthcare Group, Malaysia

 

The ideal of gentleman has captivated imaginations for centuries. You hear it everywhere these days: the term “gent” or “gentleman” has become all over the place in men’s magazines, youtube, instagram, and conversations. Movies and TV series welcome “gentlemen” and everybody seems to use the word for a wide range of men.

Yet, the path to achieving this status is far more complex than simply acquiring a good taste, mindset and polished character. As explored in the Robb Report article, "A Symposium: The Gentleman's Journey," the very essence of becoming a gentleman is a multigenerational endeavor, akin to a lineage concept.

The article argues that it takes three generations to cultivate a true gentleman. The first generation lays the foundation by establishing strong moral principles and instilling impeccable manners in their children. The second generation then builds upon this foundation, acquiring wealth and education to provide for future generations. Finally, the third generation inherits this legacy, possessing the time, resources, and cultural capital to fully embody the characteristics of a gentleman. Which is why, the gentleman concept is something "alien" to self-made person (technology entrepreneur, celebrity, politician) but it is understood typically by the well-established families over generations.

The first generation establishes good manners.

The second generation acquires wealth and education.

The third generation inherits the wealth and embodies the gentlemanly qualities.

During my grandfather’s reign as Agong (King) in the 1990s, I watched him perform his duties. Sometimes, I’ll accompany him or my father for ambassadorial events in KL and abroad. From a young age, I am expected to be prim and proper; to be a gentleman. I am grateful for that upbringing. I think it is important for anyone to possess good manners, whether you are royal or not.

YM Tunku "Kumo" Alauddin Tunku Naquiyuddin

Here's why aiming to be a full-fledged gentleman might be an unrealistic goal within one's own lifetime:

Manners and Refinement Take Time: Mastering etiquette and social graces requires consistent practice and exposure to various social settings, whether attending soiree, black-tie, or gala. This development is a gradual process that unfolds over decades, not years.

Building Wealth is a Long-Term Game: Financial security is often considered a cornerstone of gentlemanly conduct. Wealth accumulation, done ethically and responsibly, typically takes decades of dedication and effort.

True Generosity Requires Abundance: While acts of kindness are essential, a gentleman's generosity is often measured by his capacity to give back to society in impactful ways, often called noblesse oblige, a code of conduct that is typically instilled to royal and noble descendants. This often necessitates a level of financial security that takes time to build.

However, the article doesn't discourage individuals from striving for gentlemanly qualities within their own lifetimes. The pursuit of self-improvement, refinement, and social responsibility is an ongoing journey, and every generation can contribute to this process.

Therefore, while achieving the full embodiment of a gentleman in a single lifetime might be difficult, it doesn't diminish the value of the pursuit. By laying the groundwork of good character and laying the foundation for future generations, we contribute to a lineage of individuals who can one day fully embrace the true essence of gentlemanly conduct - a man of true class.

In conclusion, the journey towards becoming a gentleman is a continuous one, spanning multiple generations. While the ideal might seem out of reach within a single lifetime, the values and principles associated with gentlemanly conduct remain worthy aspirations, shaping individuals who contribute to a more civil and responsible society.

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