I prefer a pleasant vice to an annoying virtue.
I am a Gentleman; and yet I have the occasional drink, smoke the occasional cigar, say the occasional curse word, and do the occasional wrong thing every once in a while. Because even though I am a Gentleman, I am also human. And that is something I have learned to accept, from myself and from others. Nobody is perfect and nobody should be expected to be.
The biggest misconception holding back many men from becoming better men is the idea that they are not good enough, so why even try. They judge themselves based on past actions or past mistakes. The best example of this mentality is men who think they can’t be a good mentor simply because of the life they have led. How can they set a good example if they can be called out on all the bad things they have done in life?
They assume that good men are these perfect beings who walk on a different level of consciousness. The reality is that a good man is imperfect, and gets the same imperfect thoughts everyone else does. What sets them apart is how, with the same thoughts and temptations, are still willing to do good. The only thing needed to be a good man is the clear intention of being a good man. That’s where being a Gentleman comes in.
Many Eastern philosophies make a distinction between the Sage and the Gentleman. The sage is the equivalent of the saint, a man who walks on a higher level of consciousness. Yet these philosophies understand that not all men can or even should aim to become a sage, as some men’s obligations as a Warrior or as a Leader will force them to walk a different path than the Sage.
The simple fact that you are willing to do good, to step in that general direction, places you above and beyond those who do nothing other than judge. Change is not achieved through judgment, but rather through action. The fact that you are not perfect and the fact that you accept it gives you an insight as to why people fall from grace. And by understanding why people take the actions they do, can you better help them or at least deal with them. The men who best understand the importance of virtue are usually those with personal knowledge of vice at one point in their lives.