We Need Gentleness

A few days ago, I was present in the midst of a group conversation where multiple people said,

“You just don’t see that anymore.”

and

“I just don’t see many present examples right now.”

and

“It’s so rare to experience that these days.”

At one point, we were talking about forgiveness. At another point, we were talking about kindness. No one in this conversation had become cynical; instead, I believe I was hearing a yearning for expressions of care, both public and personal.

Along with this, I also recall how many people shared the trailer of the upcoming Fred Rogers documentary on Facebook recently. I saw that posted all over the place. (I also love it and can’t wait to see the film myself.) Right now, I think there is a longing to see and experience kindness on display, not just for the sake of it being on display, but for the inherent sake of kindness itself.

Or to use another word, we need gentleness. We need to practice it. We need to receive it. We need a gentler world.

This is different, of course, than needing a comfortable world. As a caveat, this is not an effort to decrease the tenacity and strength of voices crying out in anger and pain when they are experiencing violence and being marginalized (as if we could do this anyway). Sometimes, we make calls toward kindness and “civility” so we don’t have to be uncomfortable with the righteous anger and pain people are expressing. That’s just tone-policing and respectability politics, and it does more harm.

But I wonder what would happen if we responded with kindness and tenderness? I wonder what would happen if we responded not with defensiveness but gentleness?

I also wonder what would happen if we chose to practice more gentleness toward ourselves right now. This is a human need all the time. I think it is especially needed right now.

On these all of things, I’m just wondering aloud today. I would love to hear from you too.

What do you wonder?

What do you think?

What do you long for?

Renee Roederer

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