“Every woman becomes their mother. That's their tragedy. And no man becomes his. That's his tragedy.”
Mother's Day presents an interesting challenge to me: How does a gentleman approach this day?
If there were an historical handbook I could reach for at this moment, I am sure it would say something along the lines of:
"Mother's Day is a time to celebrate the woman who not only gave you life, but preserved that life so that you may be the man you are today."
That is, without a doubt, good advice. Your mother, regardless of whether or not you perceive her as good or bad, successfully accomplished a tremendous and ongoing task. For the span of your life, she has had the privilege and great responsibility of keeping you alive, teaching you to be good, and giving you the single source of motherly love you will ever have.
But Mother's Day, as perceived by a gentleman, is so much more than that. First let's understand that being a gentleman is contingent upon be perceived by outside sources. It is this writer's belief, that without audience, a man is just a man. It takes the experience of his company by another for him to be a gentleman. That being said, if a gentleman is alone on an island, but never changes his behavior, is he still a gentleman? If you can solve that, I want you to listen to this tree in the forest...but I digress.
A gentleman relies on those around him. There is a symbiosis in the world of polite society. A gentleman relies on others for many things: entertainment, friendship, levity, aid, advice, etc...but the world will rely on him just as much. This relationship is incredibly important to who we are as people because, as we all know, a man is only as good as the company he keeps.
Allow me to present a hypothetical situation; What would happen, dear reader, if the world around you suddenly changed? If, one morning, you were to awake, and the world had all become uniformly different, save you. On this particular morning, every other person in the world began hopping on one leg at all times. There was no explanation, no justification, and no discussion. It was a matter of fact that the world turned monopedal and you were stuck being a biped. How long do you think it would take until you began hopping around on one foot too? It wouldn't be all at once I am sure. At first it would just be to fit in, or to maintain eye contact. But then after a while you would realize that the world was being designed for bouncing people. Chairs became different, services changed, even sport would be reinvented. Eventually it would get to the point that being ambulatory would be a distinct disadvantage.
So now let me ask you this: if instead of all of a sudden bouncing around on one foot, the world slowly and imperceptibly changed to be full of "bad" people, what do you think would happen to you?
In 1962, the groundbreaking social psychologist Solomon Asch teamed up with Candid Camera to create a study on group think. You have probably heard of this before, or even seen it, but the test was simple. Candid Camera would place actors on an elevator all facing the wrong direction. When an unknowing man or woman would board, the audience would all enjoy watching as the person would inevitably give in, and not wanting to be different, ride the elevator backwards. You can watch a clip here:
As you can see in this relatively entertaining psychological experiment, we, as people, will always want to be a part of the group. Or at the very least, it will be a deliberate and difficult process to maintain our individuality.
So what happens if the world were not full of one-legged bouncers, or backwards facing elevator residents? What would happen if it were something a little more subtle? What would happen if people just simply, and gradually, became rude?
As much as I hate to admit it, I think it would only be a matter of time before the whole world accepted rude behavior as the norm. (look for a future post on cell phone etiquitte)
This is why we need to not just celebrate our moms, on Mother's Day. We, as polite and thoughtful gentlemen, need to celebrate ALL mothers on Mother's Day. We need to acknowledge the wonderful moms in our lives be they sisters, cousins, friends, or in-laws. We need to seek out the mothers we know are doing it right and thank them. We need to let them know, "Yes. We are aware your job is tougher than hell, and half the time it is completely thankless and exhausting. But you are one of the ones doing it right. KEEP IT UP!" And most importantly. Say "Thank you!"
So I would like to say to all the moms out there who are doing it right, even if they are doing it right in the worst way, THANK YOU! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for helping to keep the world a better place and thank you for making the future that much brighter. You are one of the most important people in the world, because without you, the world would be full of rude and obnoxious people. And while moms like you still exist, there is still some hope.
Thank you Moms.
Until the next time, be a gentleman.