The learned gentleman

No doubt we all prefer to render ourselves a worthy member of society. I cannot imagine the sole scope and objective of anyone would be willingly confined to the narrow tinctures of unqualified selfishness and greed. The goal is not to exalt some Vedic hymn but rather to deport oneself as a befitting perhaps even genteel human being. The British have long ago afforded the tangible reward of emblems, badges, coats of arm, logos, trademarks and heraldic devices to those who – at least initially – sought and achieved the approbation of the Crown. Given the historical attempts to align the sovereign with the divine, the perambulations were at times of a decidedly heady and politic force.

Naturally it behooved those in authority to anoint their preferred soldiers and minions with a dignity reflective of the source of commendation. But the elevation was of necessity limited. Nobody wants an Order of the British Empire if anyone can have it.

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, with the most senior two classes making the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female.

Barring this extraordinary appointment  – or indeed any inferior endorsement – there are but a declining number of vehicles for the expression of merit. For those of us at the low end of the scale and currently beyond or precedent celebration, a lifetime of employment can amount in the end to a collection of dust. Strangely however the endorsement of behaviour is seldom sufficient to engender true mirth. Within each of us is the private and unflinching regard of our judgement and personal assent. Have we – among the proverbial tillers of the soil – succeeded to distinguish ourselves as an honourable gentleman? Granted by the time we get to the point of asking the question of ourselves, it’s too late to do anything different. We may however enable a translation of the acme of performance to the routine plough and cultivation of life. Only yesterday for example I was exceedingly impressed when a chap gave an account which under normal circumstances would have aroused uncontrolled anxiety but which in his case proved but a particle of obstruction within the overall scheme. This in my opinion shows  real talent for living.

Looking back upon years of relentless activity – sadly at times motivated by native spirits and tactless design – it is impossible not to wince on occasion. Those commonly reported episodes of youth are certainly among the more apparent moderations. To pretend that our initial ambitions and ardent devotions were to productive ends only is a mistake. We are each of us a contaminated substance far-removed from perfection. Recognizing this however yields a more liberal and astute assessment of conduct.

Old age softens more than one’s features. Gradually we disappear into a faded recollection only, a monochromatic photograph. Nor can anyone of us fault the younger generation for their seeming disinterest. Ours oddly is an enterprise of removed attention only. Nobody cares any longer what we think or why. I say this not remorsefully but insightfully. To fulfill the requisite improvements of life the keys of advancement are in the hands of those with the strength and desire to do so.

It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again
When I see you again (yeah, uh)
See you again (yeah, yeah, yeah)
When I see you again

Songwriters: Justin Franks / Cameron Thomaz / Dann Hume / Andrew Cedar / Charlie Puth / Joshua Hardy / Phoebe Cockburn
See You Again lyrics © Wb Music