They say that if you want change you have to take it by force. There needs to be a revolution. I’ve never seen a revolution that wasn’t fought in the streets. Do you want to start a real revolution? Do you want to create real change? Try being more gentle. What is more revolutionary than being soft in a world that is anything but? As a male growing up in this violent-forward world. I was always taught that force should be met with force. If I were to get hit at school, I was expected to fight, or at least stick up for myself. Things aren’t much different now. With every perception of being attacked, we must defend ourselves. They say iron sharpens iron, but what happens when two pillows meet? That just feels much more pleasant.
Is Softness a Strength?
When we think of strong things, we think of things that are hard and solid. We don’t necessarily think that a cloud as strength. When Kobe Bryant looked over to Dwight Howard and called him “soft”, he wasn’t paying him a compliment. Imagine if the world was soft in our actions in our speech. What if we gave our family members a little bit more grace, or didn’t feel the need to defend ourselves in the face of judgment? In a world that only expects fighting, bickering, and argument, I think doing the opposite shows a lot of strength. Imagine making a mistake and being berated by a manager and greeting that example of mistreatment with a smile and a willingness to learn more.
I know this is something I have to do, especially when it comes to receiving feedback. I don’t necessarily have to agree with anything told to me, but my empathic listening skills may need an upgrade. Defending myself seems to be second-nature, especially when I know I’ll be in a situation where judgment will follow. I know that when I make a mistake, someone can call into question my character. I can sit there, listen, and detach knowing that none of it is true. That sounds a whole lot better than arguing my case.
Kindness as the Norm
I’m honestly tired of the notion that we should be kind to other people because we don’t know what they are going through. I don’t think any of that matters. A person can be living a perfect life, free from suffering and they still deserve kindness. We should be more gentle in our speech and our actions as a practice towards every single person while giving ourselves grace because we know that we are going to miss the mark at times.
We truly live in a culture where violence is the norm. A culture of attack and retaliate. It’s not just in our actions, but it is in our speech. To do well at something, we must “kill it” or you “kicked some ass.” If something needs to start, we need to “pull the trigger.” Multitasking is called “killing two birds with one stone.” What did the birds do to you? Words of violence are such a part of our nomenclature. It’s kind of crazy how aggression is so integrated into our culture. I am a big television watcher. Starting this past week I decided I was no longer going to watch television shows with violence in it. I feel like I can’t watch anything, but children’s cartoons and sitcoms. It’s no wonder why it’s so hard to respond with our hearts when we are met with hatred and hurt.
The Benefit of Gentleness
The best part about gentleness is that it’s contagious. If you find yourself within what could be an argument, your soft voice allows the other person to soften. When we are too rigid, we don’t allow ourselves to be open to what another person has to say. We don’t expand our perspectives and are not allowed to be vulnerable enough to take in new information.
We are taught to be rigid, but rigid things die. Think about the nature around you. A palm tree can withstand a tropical storm because it can bend. Its trunk is soft enough that when heavy winds hit the tree, all it does is withstand it with buoyancy. We are taught to be hard, but most dead things are hard.
A hard twig is easy to snap from a tree. In the fall, leaves turn from a soft green to a hard brown and it makes it fun to step on when they fall to the ground. The same thing can be said for the storms in our life. If we are to be rigid, expect some sort of snapping. We’ll pretend to be strong, but through that strength is how we get hurt the most. When we are gentle, we have the fluidity to go wherever the storm takes us, knowing that we’ll still be standing as if the storm never happened.