Funerals, Weddings and Grandma’s
As men we tend to be very casual individuals commonly. Now that is not everybody. There is an exception to every rule. There are men who deeply enjoy dressing quite nicely in finer clothes or more formal attire and there is nothing wrong with that either. In general though, most of us are very comfortable in a pair of shorts or our denim jeans and an old T shirt. I mean let's face it, we all adhere to that old trope at some point in our lives of a ball cap that is so faded, grimy, and worn out that we really probably should throw it away but it's just right and nicely broken in. Likewise most men have a pair of jeans, an old T shirt, and usually an old hoodie that is knocking on heaven's door, but they fit just right and it is so worn in and comfortable that we just love them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having comfortable old clothes that you love to wear.
In a lot of cases our casual appearance and comfy old clothes are more than suitable for the environment we are in; we tend to stay close to environments where we fit. Maybe you are like me and your work attire differs just slightly. Maybe you have a uniform for work or specific dress code that you must adhere to. There does come a time however when it is a problem or inappropriate for us to wear our comfy old clothes that we love so much.
I was raised very Southern, with a very Southern mentality and lifestyle my entire life. My family was born and raised Texan in the glorious years of men and women wearing suits and dresses for church, another more formal occasion. I no longer believe you must wear your very best clothes to church; I don't actually think God cares what you're wearing, but that's my opinion. Now obviously I would not wear something offensive like a shirt with inappropriate images or slogans on it. I believe that I have no right to expose people or other people's children to things that they are not ready to introduce them to. It is my responsibility to be cognizant of what I am wearing.
What this all really boils down to is respect.
You were either raised to be respectful of other people or you were not. If you were not, hopefully you have since learned the value of respect and respecting others. Unfortunately, when I look around the world today and all the news headlines the lack of respect that people have for others has become blatantly obvious. My mother shared this topic with me as something that I should write about in my blog and I agree with her. This has become a major topic these days or should I say a major issue because there is not an ongoing conversation about it.
Men, learn to be respectful of others. Real men learn respect.
Let me give you a simple example. You do not go to a funeral in your worn-out blue jeans and
a ratty old T shirt with your best ball cap. (We all know when I say best ball cap, I am referring to that worn out, faded out, stinky old ball cap that you love. I have one too, I wore mine yesterday at the gym to soak up all the sweat as I was lifting weights. It has accompanied me on many hikes with my children and even through some swimming in lakes and other outdoor activities. Even if you wash it, it still has a smell to it.) A funeral is not an appropriate place to be dressed like this, out of respect for others and not specifically the dead. Maybe your loved one or friend who passed away would have laughed off their chair or been the first one to show up to your funeral in jeans, T shirt, worn out tennis shoes and a well-worn hat. While your friend may have found it perfectly fitting for you to wear such attire to their funeral the other people there will not appreciate it. Maybe they had a different relationship with your friend than you did. Maybe they are family or extended family. A funeral is a time of formality for the sake of other people.
Let me give you another example. Growing up the child of a minister I have been to more than my fair share of weddings. As a minister I have conducted several wedding ceremonies myself, and at none of them did I ever wear blue jeans and a T-shirt. This is yet another moment of respect for someone else’s special occasion and their feelings. Maybe you are not married or maybe you are. However, it is not a big mental leap to understand how you would want people to act in that situation for you or the woman you love. Right down to the fact that she will not appreciate it if someone shows up to her special day improperly dressed for the occasion. Writing this I remember all the stories I have heard from women about their husband’s horrible friends who showed up on some occasion inappropriately dressed or conducted themselves inappropriately at one of these occasions. I wish I could say that was just a Hollywood trope that you see on sitcoms. Unfortunately, is a very common occurrence.
Maybe where you live you do not have special Sunday afternoon dinners at grandma’s, and I mean that figuratively. Maybe your special dinners at grandma’s were on another day or were with an aunt instead of a grandma. Maybe they only happen on the holidays; but we all know what dinners I am talking about. These are the occasions where you are gathered for a special meal that does not happen every day and at least the older members of the family see it as a very special occasion. Out of respect for grandma or whoever the host is you treat the occasion with the level of respect they see it as. Does that make sense to you or do I need to say it in a different way? Out of respect you need to treat it with the level of formality that they are observing it with. This is out of respect for your host and the other people involved. Do not trivialize it because it does not seem as important to you.
I will give you one more example, but I think it is even more polarizing. I was a smoker for a great many years of my life, one of my biggest pet peeves as a former smoker is a lack of respect which some people have for others with their chosen habit. In all my years smoking cigarettes I never once smoked around a child. It is not healthy for the child or me. As an adult I have the right and the choice to do what I want with my own health. Let me put this very clearly. A child did not choose to have a cigarette and I have no right and neither does anybody else to harm that child by smoking around them. I do not care if it is your child. One of my best friends who has lung problems has never had a cigarette in his life but his parents smoked around him and in the house his whole life. You do not have the right to negatively influence somebody else’s life in the name of your rights. If I were smoking somewhere publicly and another family came anywhere near me by chance, I would put my cigarette out. It is simply the right thing to do. If you are a smoker and an adult knowingly comes over to talk to you when they did not have to and they are aware that you are smoking they are choosing to approach you. They are an adult they can make that choice. Now I am harping on smoking because I was smoker for a lot of years like I said, I understand that argument from both sides. However, it applies to a great deal more.
Respect for others demands common courtesy and is extended in the way that you act. You have the right to do what you want with the caveat that it does not negatively impact anybody else around you. The minute that you are impacting others, you no longer have the same set of rights. Respect is a universal issue. Real men learn to respect other people. It is not emasculating or unmanly to act with courtesy and respect for others, regardless of whether you know them or not. It is quite the opposite; it is a sign of mature masculinity and maturity in general to treat people with respect and courtesy. Currently, it seems to be a dying trait that we are in desperate need of, all you must do is turn on the news to understand this.
We can go back to the golden rule as we recall the Bible verse and say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We can amend this to, treat others as you would have them treat you. This applies to everyday courtesies like going to a funeral. In that case we want people to respect the wishes of our loved ones and those around us so we must respect the wishes of those around the people we love.
Dressing for the occasion does not infringe on your rights nor does it make you less masculine. Men observe the emotional state of others and treat them with the respect they deserve as a human being. Men, if you approach every situation with the attitude of respect that it deserves it will give you a clear path on how you should act and appear. I am not recommending that you must change who you are or the way you are. If you see my YouTube videos you will know that I have a full beard and a mohawk. I do not shave off my beard or my mohawk for special or formal occasions. I do make sure that my beard is clean and well-groomed and that my is tamed appropriately for the situation. On my YouTube videos you will see that my mohawk is frequently slicked back over the top of my head. This is how I wear it to work because I work in a professional environment. They do not complain about my appearance because, while it is different than a lot of people around me it is not unruly or unkept. You do not have to change who you are to be respectful; you merely need to make appropriate adjustments for the scenario.
Likewise, you do not need to change who you are to be respectful of other people. You just temper yourself out of respect and courtesy to them. I have been known to swear like a sailor however I do not do this in front of my parents because they find it disrespectful and inappropriate. I also do not do so in front of my children because it is not something I want to teach them. When they are adults they can choose what they want to say and how they want to speak. Because I want them to be respectful of other people, I do not teach them to speak with words that are inappropriate in some situations or offensive to others.
It all comes down to a very simple statement, gentlemen. Real men use respect to temper their approach and their conduct to the world around them. I use the word gentlemen very purposely because that is the concept that we must adhere to. Think about it.
Let me know what you think in the comments below and if I missed anything. Or if you want to start a conversation, I would love to hear what you have to say.
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today.