Noblesse oblige is a French word which literally means ‘nobility obligates’. It refers to the obligation of noble men to behave honorable, responsible, and generous. But who are noble men? After the demise of monarchy, and with the advent of democracy, the word noblesse oblige is forgotten along with the root word: nobility.
Who are noble men then? A dictionary will tell you that ‘noble men are people who are born into nobility’. People of high birth, class, or station. I had known a few of them in my childhood. Our high school headmaster was one. A Roman Catholic clergyman. For me, someone who embodied the most noble person mankind has ever seen. Son of man, Jesus Christ himself.
I had known a few others also. But those times were different. If one had chosen it himself, one could have lived a life of nobility, bliss, and solitude. Not now. There were no mobile phones. Unlike the present, evil was not communicated fast. Currently, TV and the internet is everywhere. Everyone is inter-connected at a high bandwidth. Evil-and-evil-people get easy access to noble people so that they can tempt them. Make ‘em do wrong. It needs a very high level of personal integrity, solitude, access to good people and circumstances, and a little bit of luck – blah, blah, blah to remain noble and honorable these days. And I am talking about aristocratic people.
For lesser mortals, things get even more difficult. A lot of things ordinary people think are right are simply just not right. Nobody is there to teach them. Of course, the holy scriptures are there. The biographies of all the good men are there in all the good libraries. But unless someone embodies them, no one is going to see them. Nobody is going to do them. All the preaching in this world will not change the world. Because if preaching alone would have changed the world, the world would have already changed many times over. Every preaching, including this one; starts with the person who preaches it. If he does what he preaches, then other people will see it. And they will believe it. Only then, people will start to change.
So if there is anyone who considers himself noble, please show it in your deeds. Show others the generosity, compassion, honor, and responsible behavior. And if there is anyone who would like to live nobler – without being born into nobility; do it in your spirit and works. Because you are the chosen ones. To lead us, so that other ordinary mortals can follow.