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A Call for Gentleness

By Lloyd J. Thomas

Human life is extremely fragile. Have you ever noticed how almost everything in our environment is tougher that we are? Why, just this morning, I pumped into the handle of the refrigerator and generated a small, black, ugly bruise on my forearm. Don't ask me what I was doing in order to bump into the refrigerator. But the resulting bruise hurt. Inanimate objects always seem to fight with me.

Our skin breaks or cuts easily. We bleed readily. With very little effort, inanimate objects can maim our bodies and even snuff out our lives. A small projectile called a bullet traveling at a relatively slow speed is enough to penetrate our skin, flesh and bone. A bigger projectile commonly referred to as the automobile, aided by people called drivers, kills over 53,000 of us every year in the United States alone.

Not only do solid, hard objects hurt us, our environment is filled with more subtle powers that are toxic to our well-being. Chemicals in the air inflame our lungs and poison our food. Toxins in the water sap our health and kill our food sources (see the movie, “The Future of Food"). Little creatures named bacteria and viruses that we cannot even see without the help of a microscope devastate our bodies, deplete our health and murder our relatives ... or us.

The greatest source of danger to our human lives is, unfortunately, other humans. Our human species is unique in its ability to attack, decimate, maim and destroy itself. It requires little effort for us to kill one another or ourselves.

It is not the ease with which our lives are erased however, that result in so much human destruction. It is our own aggression, fear, greed and ignorance, powerfully equipped with the tools and technology of death, coupled with that fragility of human life itself. Throw into this crucible of destruction a learned sense of worthlessness about individual human life, and you have an enormously dangerous mixture.

Antidote for danger
The antidote for such a dangerous mixture of human elements is what I call gentleness. Gentleness is a way of functioning, a style, a manner of being in the world. It is probably learned beginning in the womb. It is certainly developed from birth and throughout life.

Starting with the manner in which the parent feeds the child, gentleness begins. Followed by the way in which children experience others behaving toward them, gentleness evolves. As children observe and imitate the actions of others, gentleness grows or withers. How we see others responding to threat, handling their pain and fears, using their anger and protecting themselves from danger ... Each contributes to or detracts from the blossoming of gentleness.

Gentleness expresses many characteristics. It is demonstrating respect, consideration and personal concern for self and others. It expresses thoughts and feelings like caring, acceptance, security, guidance, support, nurturing and love. Even the powerful feelings of anger, fear and sadness can be expressed with gentleness. Gentleness is not weakness. It is not submission. It is not giving up personal power. It is not being a wimp.

Gentleness is born of inner strength, self-awareness and secure personal power. When you feel secure and confident within, you can afford to be gentle with yourself, others and all creatures animate and inanimate. With gentleness you can become a living part of your environment upon which you depend for your dear life ... your present existence.

Given the reality of the fragility of human life, we can all benefit from developing the character quality of gentleness in our lives. In our tough world, gentleness is one of the essential characteristics we need to develop and strengthen in order to survive.

© Lloyd J. Thomas

Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D., has 30+ years of experience as a life coach and licensed psychologist. He is available for coaching in any area presented in "Practical Psychology." Initial coaching sessions are free. Contact him at (970) 568-0173, by e-mail at [email protected] or visit Dr. Lloyd at

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