On Being Gentle!

On Being Gentle!    

I’ve always liked the word ‘Gentle’!  I suppose I learned to appreciate gentleness in modeling behaviors after my father.  This man seldom raised his voice, demonstrated strength beyond belief as he faced the blows life dealt him, and, even though he was very physically strong, he never raised his hand in anger at any of his six children even though there must have been times when he was tempted.  With four children already born, and another on the way, he was drafted into service to our country.  He never left the continental US, but was away for nearly two years during WWII.  Now he was home, he saw the birth of a sixth child, and just as it seemed he could just live without trauma in his life, within six hours on a summer evening, his wife died of a coronary thrombosis.  Struggling to keep his family together, Dad worked diligently on the construction jobs and at home, and fatigue contributed to his getting a respiratory disease. He was given the ‘miracle drug’, penicillin, only to discover that he was allergic and nearly lost his life.  And, through it all, he remained a ‘gentle’ person.

So, what does it mean to be a ‘gentle’ person?  This person would be kindly, amiable, not severe, rough, or violent, mild.  In today’s competitive world where the most aggressive and the most ambitious seem to have forsaken gentleness in favor of ‘win at all costs’. or ‘nice guys finish last’, or ‘I’ll get mine, now you try to get yours’, we are tempted to cloak ourselves in the armor necessary to survive and we build walls around ourselves to protect us from real or imagined dangers.  Sometimes if we listen carefully we almost hear the popular voices saying, “Gentleness is Weakness!”  We see the strong person cry or demonstrate sadness and we join the chorus of voices which indicate some weakness in those people.  And, even though many have learned in their religious lives the words – ‘. . blessed are the meek,’ or ‘. . blessed are the merciful’, or ‘ . . blessed are the peacemakers’, we seem to act in accordance with an entirely different values orientation.  We ask ourselves if we can afford to lend a helping hand to someone less fortunate and risk being thought to be a ‘softie’.  We ask ourselves if we can cry beside the parents who have just lost children in some horrific tragedy? Can we stand beside the aggressive, bullying, ambitious population with the confidence that our gentleness will prevail and will eventually serve us well?  Can we even find a way to be gentle to those who do not seem to be so?

Each of us in our own way has to decide the pathway which best suits our needs and we will  be known by those close to us by our behavior.  Han Suyin, a Chinese-born author best known for her 1952 book A Many Splendored Thing assures us that “There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.”  And none of us needs to accept that as truth unless we can place gentleness in our own lives and live the life of a gentle person.  Many times in my lifetime, I’ve been reminded that the human being may be the only living thing that has the ability of ‘self-examination’.  We have the ability to have our eye at the eyepiece and our ‘selves’ on the examination slide – we can look at ourselves in special ways.  And, based on what we see in ourselves, we – every one of us – has the choice and the ability to make changes in what we observe.  

So, now, as you look at yourself, what do you see?  A person who is kindly, amiable, not severe, rough, or violent,  and mild?   Would others looking at you see you in that same way?  Would you like to be known as a ‘gentle’ person?  In making that very personal decision, you might remember an advertisement that appeared in almost every magazine circulated throughout the ’90’s – an advertisement for Nicholson Files.  The tag line in these ads was ‘Tough, But, Oh So Gentle’!  Over many years the files of the Nicholson File Company have been used in the workplaces of America and many hands have skillfully used these files to finish beautiful pieces made of wood as well as metal.  Just as these files that have lasted through the years and are regarded by many as the ‘Premier’ file available, you, too, can live on into tomorrow with a reputation of being ‘Tough, But, Oh So Gentle’.  

Ready to give that a try???


One Response to “On Being Gentle!”

  1. Wendell Zirkle Says:

    Hi Jim,
    will write later

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