Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy
While I was in college in the early 90’s, I was part of a small group of architecture students who dove right into the idea of using computers to produce our drawings. This wasn’t viewed very favorable by most of our professors who still viewed hand drafting as an art form and constantly dismissed the validity of computers as a valid tool of the profession. “A computer will never replace a good drafter” or “guess you can’t work if the lights go out” were repeated over and over as a way to put down our little clique. We would try to argue that the computer was simply a tool or if the lights go out, you wouldn’t be able to work anyway, but those replies fell constantly on deaf ears as the professors refused to listen to anyone else’s opinions on the matter.
The irony of the story was that as soon as I graduated, the government required that all construction plans had to be submitted in digital format. Now suddenly, the same professors who would constantly be putting us down were now in a bidding war to hire as soon as we graduated. The reality of why so many of those old professors kept trying to dismiss us had less to do with the purity of the art form and more to do with a fear of becoming obsolete with the changing times as their own insecurities were getting the better of them.
Why do I bring this story up in a blog about gentlemen culture and modern men? Because I am seeing a very similar situation happening between the Old Guard and the New Guard within the Modern Gentlemen Movement. Every once in a while, a meme pops up stating how these modern gentlemen don’t know how to change a tire, or hunt, or chop wood, or use a firearm, or rebuild an engine, or some other “manly” activity. Others state how these men must be condemned for either their hairstyle, their beards, or their fashion sense. The penalty for their inability to do any of the previously mentioned hobbies or their fascination for certain trends is the disdain of the more traditional minded gentlemen out there.
To the Old Guard, as a member of that generation, I ask for a simple favor. Stop being such insecure little brats. Most of those things you mention only work if someone grew up within your own personal little world. I’ve been a city dweller my entire life, so I have never had any interest or even need to develop any kind of “survival skills.” The closest I get to “roughing it in the great outdoors” is driving with my top down. It’s funny to read post criticizing someone’s style or fashion sense done by someone with no fashion identity. As for some of the other “life skills” needed to be a man, they are actually more like “life skills” to be an adult. Not only men, but women as well, should have some basic mechanical knowledge if they every plan to own a car. I actually see no need to force anyone to validate their manhood to play to my insecurities.
If anything we should be applauding these young Gentlemen for helping revive what was once a dying art, as they took up the torch of chivalry and masculinity to light their way through life. Sure, the torch is no longer an actual flame but rather a flashlight app within their smart phone, but at the core, it’s still the same thing. The only thing that has changed is the tools at their disposal.
Yes, we must keep the old arts and the old traditions alive, but never at the expense of evolution and progress. Progress is impossible without change, and this isn’t the first time that Chivalry has changed. If anything, it’s constantly changing and evolving. That’s why, after over 500 years, we are still honoring the Code of Chevaliers and calling each other Gentlemen.