What It Means to Be a True Gentleman

Topics: Virtue, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Gentleman Pages: 5 (2051 words) Published: February 4, 2013
During the year 1899, in the state of Virginia, there was a man named Mr. John Walter Wayland who, at the time, entered into a contest with only the hopes of coming out as the winner. Many years ago, The Baltimore Sun came up with a competition for the best definition of a “True Gentleman.” After his submission, Mr. John Walter Wayland was nonetheless selected as the winner, with his definition of the “True Gentleman” being printed in the Baltimore newspaper as well as in many other publications thereafter. For many years, the author of the “True Gentleman” was thought to be anonymous, until the 1970’s when the editor of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge manual, The Phoenix, Mr. Joseph Walt, discovered that the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis also used the “True Gentleman” definition in their manual, where they came to find the true author to be Mr. John Walter Wayland. However, it wasn't until 2001, during the Fraternity Convention in Orlando, Florida, that it was officially adopted as Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s creed. As a future member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, I am expected to know, understand, and exemplify Mr. John Walter Wayland’s definition of the “True Gentleman,” which reads: “The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own; and who appears well in any company; a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe” (Mr. John Walter Wayland – Virginia 1899). In one way, I view the “True Gentleman” definition as an infallible guide for dealing with other people, whether they be members in Sigma Alpha Epsilon or not. It helps me establish a guidepost for how I should act went put up against a situation, while, at the same time, shaping my behavior and personality into that of a successful and respected man. Although Mr. John Walter Wayland’s definition of the “True Gentleman” may seem unobtainable or impossible to live up to, it does not give, me, any member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, as well as any other person in the world, the rights to just sit back and half-ass the work I should be putting into exemplifying the “True Gentleman.” No matter where I am, or whatever stressful point I am in my life, I must always remember the definition of the “True Gentleman” and strive to be the respected man that Mr. John Walter Wayland expects each and every one of us to be. Although I may not have the “True Gentleman” definition memorized right now and although I may get frustrated at times, I must not veer away from one of the most essential aspects I will develop over my years as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. It will take time, but there is nothing more I want then to become a living example of the “True Gentleman,” because I know that if I follow Mr. John Walter Wayland’s words, I will find true respect and success. When analyzing the “True Gentleman,” the creed of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, it may just seem as if you are getting some philosophical poem thrown at you. However, when you take the time to evaluate each and every line, you will find a specific meaning behind each word and every phrase. However, before I can even look at the lines, I notice the semicolons, which, to me, probably have the most important meaning beyond everything. The semicolons, in my eyes, signify that every word and every phrase is to be seen as “one,” whereas, if they were to be replaced with periods, it signify both stopping and starting. Right away, I can truly see that everything...
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