By Cindy Koch –
Looking over to my bookshelf, I see two tiny books that have been there since my children were babies: How to Raise a Lady and How to Raise a Gentleman. They are cute little books that give brief overviews of some of the most obvious manners that little people should learn—how to act at a birthday party, tips on belching and boogers. Of course, these little books are written to parents so that their little uncivilized monsters might grow to be considerate of others and the greater world around them. Not so shockingly, most parents (including myself) become so overwhelmed and exhausted just keeping our children fed and alive that raising a lady or gentleman can easily be overlooked.
So while I have very much appreciated the relational reminders received from these little books of young etiquette, I am more and more convinced these are not the real problems with our ladies and gentlemen of the present age. It is true that most do not know how to write a thank you note, and most do not even know what telephone manners refer to, but this is not the worst of it. Boys and girls are being raised to live intensely selfishly, each trapped inside their own individual little plastic bubble world. Rushing around, staying still, sometimes bumping into one another, but always very much alone.
Created in this world, ladies and gentlemen, men and women, none were meant to live alone. In fact, from the very beginning, Adam recognized the first woman by her differences in relation to him. Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh – this is me… he said, but it is not quite me. There are very real distinctions here, man and woman, gentleman and lady. Man was given to garden and name. In contrast, woman was sent to be a help. Relationship of differences provided a community of care between man and woman, lady and gentleman. He learned to provide for her; she learned to listen to him.
Yet, our men and women have been taught just the opposite. There is no distinction; all should be the same. Our children learn to fend for themselves in a plastic ball, unable to see the differences, untrained to expect a community of care. Even though she noticed that the boys are naturally more muscular, she is bullied back into her bubble of self-dependence. Even though he longs for a girl to protect and watch over, he is shamed by threats of chauvinism to retreat to his lonely plastic prison.
Today, both are expected to work, fight, and provide. Today, both are expected to help, support, and care for the babies. Yet, every spoken prospect for man or woman is attacked from all sides. In the end, the only answer this enlightened generation will accept speaks from behind the walls of your isolated spherical chamber. Stay inside, think only of yourself, and no one will get hurt.
By our encouragement, we are losing men and women. Ladies and gentlemen are slowly dying out, not for lack of manners, but for lack of relational distinctions with one another. Men need women in their lives in order to act like gentlemen. Women need men in their lives in order to act like ladies. Otherwise we have raised nothing more than funny little creatures who can’t see outside of their own spinning plastic world.