“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.”Saint Francis de Sales
I’m doubling down today and combining my Word of the Month with a new illustration. What inspired my young woman was a photograph someone saved on Pinterest – for the sake of a wedding dress. As I pondered what came to mind when I looked at her, the first word I thought of was “femininity.”
I love that word, and the meaning of the word (and I truly wish that I was more feminine sometimes, haha), but I didn’t want my post to remind you of the ongoing debates on gender. That’s the last thing that I want to talk about.
So, thoughts about femininity reminded me of the word nurturing, which then led me to my chosen word for February: Gentleness.
If there’s one thing that the world needs more of right now, it’s gentleness.
Gentleness is being mild mannered, kind, and soft. A Biblical definition I found was showing care and respect for others in the way that you act and speak. The opposite of gentleness is harsh or severe.
In social psychology I learned how certain circumstances can drastically change a person’s behavior, for the worse. One of those is being in a crowd. A person who might normally be gentle might also be seen shouting, fighting, throwing things, or even destroying property when they get caught up in the crowd. The reason behind the change is that they feel less “personally” responsible, because “everyone else is doing it too.” The other thing is the anonymity—you’re less likely to be recognized in a crowd, so feeling anonymous also feeds into the “crowd think” scenario.
Anonymity also plays a major role in internet behavior. People feel anonymous behind the screen, and they prove everyday how harsh and severe a person can be when they’re feeling anonymous on the internet – just look at social media. I’ve often wondered, when I’ve seen the nastiest of nasty comments on Twitter (or wherever), does that person talk that harshly face to face?
What I’ve been thinking about lately is the whole “mask” thing with COVID. Where I live, masks are still required in public places, and it seems to me that the anonymity of the mask ushered in a whole new wave of harshness and severity. And, sadly, there are days when that includes me.
I have caught myself speeding through the grocery store, practically knocking people (and their carts) over, in a hurry to stock my cart and be first in line. I’ve also been aggravated with checkers for being too damn slow. I’m not sure it’s because I feel anonymous though—I think it has more to do with wanting to get outside to take the damn mask off so that I can breathe again—but I’m pretty sure anonymity plays a role. Or maybe it’s because we don’t get to see smiles as much. Smiles can be contagious, and that benefit has disappeared behind the mask… along with gentleness.
So that’s my word and what I’ll be focusing on this month… being a little less harsh and severe and a little more gentle.
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.”Saint Francis de Sales
About the Image
I created the gentlewoman in Illustrator and used a photograph for the background because I wanted her to be surrounded by something real. Then I took it over to Photoshop and added an oil paint effect so that the whole piece would look more surreal. I don’t know… just something different.
A Little Note
I enjoy adding quotes to my posts, but I decided today that I’m not going to get all technical and search the internet for hours trying to find proof of who actually said them. I’ve done that before, several times, and I ended up traveling a bit too far down the rabbit hole. What I’m trying to say is that I can’t guarantee the credits that I give, and – honestly – does it really matter? That being said – don’t quote me. Haha!
Thanks for reading. I hope you found something interesting, useful or enjoyable here!
Until next time,
Peace & Love!