"gravitas" buzzing around the innerwebz a lot lately and I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what it meant, but not wanting to be in a situation where some one could say to me "you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means" I decided to look it up and see where it came from, and what it really meant.
"Gravitas", along with "dignitas", and "pietas" are Roman concepts, they are traits that all men should possess. Boiled down, since they don't have specific English translations, they say that mean should have duty (to God and family), substance, or depth of personality, dignity, and honor. This really got me thinking about what modern society expects men to be, and the traits they should have. It seems to me that society regularly mocks men who hold onto these kinds of ideals. Men in the media are portrayed as womanizing jerks, complete buffoons, or with other character flaws that would make them social cripples in real life. I think the last time a decent father figure was shown on TV was probably the Cosby show. This coupled with a 50% divorce rate in the United States it is no wonder that boys and men don't know how to behave.
I was raised by a single mother, but despite that I was lucky. My mom was proactive. She made sure I was involved with positive role models. I grew up with uncles, scout leaders, and church leaders that set good examples, and taught me to stand for something in a moral sense. They also taught me sportsmanship, outdoor recreation (camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, etc.), and all the other things I jokingly refer to as the "Manly Arts". Unfortunately many men my age weren't so blessed and are now raising (or in many cases not raising) another generation or men who don't know who or what they should be.
I think we should come up with a modern equivelent to gravitas, dignitas, and pietas. My top five would be
1. Faith (stand for something)
2. Duty (to family and country) (sometimes the old ones are still good)
3. Honor (in family relationships, business relationships etc.)
4. Industry (don't wait for the world to serve you, it doesn't owe you a living) if you want something get out and earn it
5. Humility (admit when you are wrong and fix it, be teachable)
This is my biased list of attributes, what do you think? let me know in the comments.