April 17, 2011

Sir Dude!

I've been traveling a lot these last few weeks, but am back and posting again. On my travels I had occasion to speak to a great group of men in Carson City, Nevada where they are in the early stages of forming a group mentoring / activity based organization called Str8 Street. It's an operation which, in addition to developing strong boys, intends to minimize the call to the gangs in their community. I'll post more about Str8 Street down the road.

In my presentation we had young guys as young as 12 up to Elders in their 70's. I you know me you know I love being in a room with a multi-generational male tribe. During my presentation, I address one very young man as "dude" when asking him a question. It was amazing to me that this young guy had to courage to speak up in a room full of his elders, and I made sure he got a round of applause for being seen and heard. After the program I got an email from an older man who felt that "sir" might have been a more respectful way to address the boy.

I do like that term "Sir." Originating in the days of Knighthood, and still awarded as a title of honor in England, it certainly is an elevating expression. Yet I believe in some circles, like the work "man" so many adolescent males use to address each other, "dude" is a way of saying, "I see the man in you." It is an honoring expression.

After a few exchanges, it turned out that the man who sent me the email had been an Eagle Scout, and later in his life attended the U. S. Naval Academy. Both of those experiences are powerful forces for instilling a strong sense of respect for others.

Personally, after this "wake up call," I'm thinking I'm just going to pay more attention to the word "Sir," in my vocabulary when addressing males of any age. As I've gotten older, I'm hearing it pointed at me more often and liking it. Can't imagine other men wouldn't also.

Then there is always Sir Dude!

What do you think?

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  1. Anonymous6:42 PM

    I too feel that "Sir" is a very honoring way to address a man. Sometime back a person addressed me in this manner, and I can't say that it didn't really make me feel good!

  2. Then, of course, there is always the poem by A.A. Milne, 'The Knight whose Armour Didn't Squeak'...! It's in his book 'Now We Are Six'. I think it's delightful. I hope you do too.

  3. Hey Duke! (no, not dude)

    I think you are trying too hard. Sir is good. And first name looking them in the eyes with a good concern may be better.

    Bill, Vista, Ca.

  4. Just a comment on stereotypes and generalizations (having taught college courses on such): they're always dangerous, especially with variable meanings.

    I travel/hike frequently with a friend my age - we were born in the same month in 1943. He commented (and I agreed) on how many people called him "sir" (we were in South Texas - maybe a southern thing?), and wondered when he had been knighted? We both saw it as a none-too-subtle statement: your an old guy/geezer, so both a statement of respect but also an age-specific label.

    So, sir can have a variety of meanings, some positive, but other(s) negative. You might just want to consider the age of the person you address with sir, and how it may be taken? (My friend, who is self-admittedly vain, took offense - I didn't.)

  5. Warren10:50 AM

    Earl, for the urban 'cats':
    "Yo, Sir Dude!"

  6. Dude I think is more related to the younger generation, not an Eagle Scout or Officer, both of which I am, too. Sir is too formal. Ask the young man for his feedback, not me, an ol guy.

  7. John Howard Prin, LADC10:21 AM

    I think saying "dude" to a young man is entirely appropriate. It's very common and not demeaning at all. Saying "Sir" is for men one's own age or older. I think the gentleman who emailed you to "correct" you is stuck in the past a bit. Because "sir" is appropriate in the military or Eagle Scouts doesn't make it appropriate in non-military settings. I'm quite certain the young man took no offense.

    As for "Sir Dude" -- rock on!


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