I love thoughts that present paradoxes.
Gentleness seems by definition not to be a strong approach
to life, as the strong people and things that we get to
know do not need gentleness to accomplish what they need
to do. But I've watched people use gentle words to
calm others who seemed to be ready to use violence, and
I've seen parents and teachers use gentleness to turn
tense situations into calm ones.
Of course, the greatest strength of gentleness is shown
when it's a way of life, not just a part of a
situation. Most of us don't learn of the power of
gentleness while we're growing up, for we don't have a
whole lot of teachers to show us how positive a force it
can be. But I know from experience that young people
who are treated with gentleness are much more likely to
treat others in the same way, just as young people who are
taught violence grow up trying to deal with situations
using force and violence.
Be gentle. Be gentle with those you love, with
yourself, with those whom you really can't stand. As
you learn to apply gentleness effectively, you'll find
that people respond very positively to you, for you're
treating them with respect. In my high school
classrooms, for example, I never deal with issues with
force or threats, and for this reason I almost never have
to deal with any behavioral issues, even in classes of 35
or 40 people. My students know that I respect them
and that I treat them gently--though I don't baby
them--and thus they feel no need to do the acting out that
generally results in problems.
Be gentle. With yourself and others. You'll be
surprised and amazed at just how far gentleness can take
you, if you're patient enough to stay gentle, even when
results aren't very obvious.