The Honorable Edmund Burke listed several qualities that make what he termed a natural aristocracy. Qualities that are nothing more than what makes a true gentleman of character and moral upstanding.
Our first lesson from Burke was what makes good breeding, the influence of family and the necessity of avoiding the unseemly elements in life.
To be taught to respect one’s self
William M. Thayer wrote of Self-Respect in his guide for virtuous living, Gaining Favor With God and Man. True self-respect challenges the respect of others. No man has reason to claim the respect of his fellows unless he first respects himself, for this latter act is the outcome of the only elements of character that can command the sincere regard of men. A mean man, a dishonest man, a lazy man,or a conceited man does not respect himself. He knows he is not worth of his own respect even, unless he is living under the power of some strong delusion.
When you have a proper respect for yourself, ignoble deeds are tasteless, whether publicly known or not you must life with what you do. Self respect guards the virtuous, jealously keeping a young man or woman on the straight and narrow path.
To be habituated to the censorial inspection of the public eye
The self respecting individual will hold himself to a higher standard than the public often does. However, there are times when the public can perceive even the most noble of actions in a negative light, deeds performed with good intentions can often go awry.
In private life, by this I mean what can be called domestic life, with friends and family, husband and wife, we face the same thing. Friends are quick and ready to chide and correct. There are times when this is helpful, but often it is as a knife twisting the wound.
For me the topic of respect strikes home. The agricultural community has in recent decades fallen out of favor in society, the farmer has been belittled, constantly told that they are, “The backbone of America,” yet being pushed to their “proper place” at the same time. We need to take back the respect and dignity of farming, the sacred duty it is to steward the land, fortunately with the Sustainable Agriculture movement we see many regaining their self-respect and the respect of others.
Establish Your Character – Set yourself to guarded actions, value your reputation enough that you wouldn’t do anything ill in private as well as public. That confidence, the knowledge of your own character, will be evident to others in your actions.
Rest in Character – No matter what others say, you know yourself and your motives. If mistakes have been made so be it, but don’t let the critics tear you apart inside. Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man actually in the arena, who’s face is marred by dust, sweat and blood.” As a boy I often said, “Everybody’s a critic.” and it is still true.
Let the critics of the world remind you of the importance of your duty, and do nothing in your life that would make you blush to speak of it.