We might ask ourselves from time to time what the role of a gentleman is in our lives today. In the past the gentleman was designed to separate and segregate groups of people. A gentleman was a man who followed the elaborate rule of behaviour set out by his superiors. Since it was a social class inhabited by and tailored toward men it was labelled as it was. To be a gentleman was to occupy a privileged part of the social hierarchy and has moved into the 20th century we saw that role start to change. The term gentleman began to be used to reward someone displaying, if only temporary, good etiquette. This conjures images of small children behaving themselves only just long enough to make a favourable impression on a stranger in the hopes of obtaining the reward of a treat from their mother.
To put it simply the role of the modern gentleman, as I see it, is to act as proof of his own necessity. There is no one in the world whom I would prefer behave toward me with in anything less than a kind and respectful manner. Now, granted, anyone can treat me however they choose but I, and indeed everyone else, has a right to prefer better treatment to worse. That being said, were I the perfect gentleman, I ought to comport myself in such a way as to warrant that better treatment. There is a certain amount of give and take, but the role of the gentleman is an active one. This is someone who takes the initiative to do the best he can.
Why should we not be well mannered people? Why should we not be refined, cultivated and polished in our demeanour and bearing? Why should we not seek to charm if we can? Why should we not cultivate and encourage in ourselves consideration, thoughtfulness and graciousness toward others in the smallest details of daily life? – A member of the Aristocracy. The manners and rules of good society. (1913) v.
This nameless member of the aristocracy brings up a valid point: it is not only from others that I prefer to be treated well, but also that I ought to treat myself just as well in the process. To be refined and polished presupposes a lack of ignorance and a thirst for self improvement. And so we see that todays gentleman is all at once public, private and personal. However it is not an unpopular sentiment that chivalry is dead and that gone are the days of the gentleman. More than anything else I would say this is a result of complacence and apathy: why make the effort with people I will likely never see again? If no one else is doing it why should I? There is a short and simple answer. Utilize etiquette to prove that good behaviour is not dead, so that no one else can use those same questions as an excuse.