The lost art of gentleness
Have you ever held a bird in your hand? How about a butterfly? Did you notice anything? Like perhaps how careful you had to be not to scare it off. Did you hold the bird so gently, it decided to rest on your hand? Or did you touch the butterfly a little too firmly and rubbed off the beautiful colors on its wings?
Gentleness is a lost art. Our growing “quick to blame” society is at the helm of why this is the case. The quick trigger of blaming and shaming others for their mistakes is often pulled, and the casualties are endless. Who are we to enforce moral, ethical, and cultural values?
Transcendence of humankind
Many people believe, and act, like it’s their given right to judge and bring down the hammer on their fellow peers. In a society with such vast and completely different cultures, how can anyone be right? Well, the right one is the one you are a part of, correct? Or so we think.
While many people share common beliefs, ideals, morals, and ethical values, there are differences throughout various parts of the world. In America, there are plenty of Christians; in China, there are many Buddhists. In Uganda, there is a heavy influence of African culture, in Quebec, Canada, there’s a heavy influence of French culture.
“Differences don’t have to separate us; they can bring us together.”
While there is a varying degree of difference between such religions and cultures, does that mean they cannot coexist? Or, to further that notion, if they are so different, they refuse to be a part of one another as their ideals go against each other, can they exist in solitude? The answer should be yes, but it isn’t.
“With differing thoughts, beliefs, and values comes the aspect of wanting to change others.”
If someone holds beliefs other than yours, have you ever stopped to think why? Did you ponder that maybe, just maybe, their upbringing was in an entirely different country or culture than yours, so what they value, you don’t? We must think about our own inherent bias’ towards others. If you, as a person, choose to believe in something, that is your choice. From the moment we are born, we are molded and shaped by other figures, whether we like to admit it or not.
You must be gentle if you pick up a bird or butterfly and put it on your hand. Since, if you’re not, the bird or butterfly will simply fly away. If either one lands on you, chances are, they trusted you in that split second. They believed that you wouldn’t hurt them. In the same way, when others open up to us about their views on life or cultural values, we should be gentle. In a world full of individuals who judge and criticize others, it takes courage to open up.
It’s tough to open up to others, especially when you’ve already been shunned by so many. So to open up, despite this, is courageous. Therefore, the regard of one’s thoughts, emotions, and viewpoints should never be “it’s not mine, so I don’t care about it and will show no mercy to others’ beliefs.”
If we wish to grow as people, we must show grace to others. You can’t have one without the other. Furthermore, gentleness isn’t just limited to differing religious or cultural views, but in mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes in our lives; it’s nearly a birthright. Through making mistakes, we grow. Yet, along the path of growth, we are met with those who judge us, tell us what we should have done, and criticize us to no end.
Rather than shunning someone when they make a mistake or making it painstakingly clear, why not be gentle with them? Especially considering, you have likely made plenty of your own. Instead of being hard on your children for making the same mistakes you made as a child, empathize with them.
“Be understanding in a world of the misunderstood.”
Your understanding plays a crucial role in the development of yourself and those around you. Gentleness isn’t just meant for those close to you, either. It’s intended for yourself. You should be gentle with yourself, because you need to be if you want to be gentle with others, too. It’s the same as loving yourself. You can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself.
Sadly, gentleness is a lost art due to the self-centered ideologies of today’s society. While individual growth is excellent, it shouldn’t come at the expense of others. After all, as humans, we have an innate desire to help others. Pointing out someone’s flaws or mistakes should never be what makes you feel better about any situation. Maybe you notice some potential improvements in yourself or someone else and bring them to their attention. But self-deprecation and the bashing of others will never prevail.
Gentleness, as best defined by one word, is love. If done through love, gentleness can overcome any difference anyone has. Be mindful of others and their backgrounds, but more importantly, be gentle with them. Don’t allow your indifferences to shine. Growing into the person you are today because you were afforded specific knowledge, wisdom, and luxuries others weren’t, doesn’t give you the right to shame others.
Be gentle. Be gentle with others’ thoughts, emotions, religious, cultural, moral, and ethical views. I am not perfect. I’ve struggled with my own inherent bias’. But one thing I’ve come to know is, your understanding of other people and their background starts with one thing, gentleness.