Gentleness means recognizing that the world around us is fragile, especially other people. It is recognizing our own capacity to do harm and choosing instead to be tender, soft-spoken, soft-hearted, and careful. When we are gentle we touch the world in ways that protect and preserve it.
Being gentle doesn't mean being weak; gentleness can be firm, even powerful. To behave in a gentle manner requires that we stay centered in our own values and strength -- that we are active rather than reactive. Coming from this center, a gentle word or touch can channel our energy into healing or making peace.
The North Wind and the Sun
The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.
"We shall have a contest," said the Sun.
Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.
"As a test of strength," said the Sun, "Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man."
"It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat," bragged the Wind.
The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat. Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat. The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter. Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.
"How did you do that?" said the Wind.
"It was easy," said the Sun, "I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way."