Letter to the Editor

Gentleness

Monday, October 29, 2018

Stop it! Just stop it! Would that it were that easy. However, it is that simple. The solution to all the expressions of hate, distrust and violence is to cease and desist! But, you say, what to put in its place? How to change the narrative and the acting out? It comes down to gentleness, and I'll tell you how that works, if you'll stay with me.

Suppose you are tempted to retort to a demonstrator who is spewing forth vitriol that attacks your favorite candidates or causes, or long held virtues/values. You might be tempted to join in the fray, up the ante, or escalate the dialog. That would be a mistake. That is what many do now, and look at the price we are paying as a society in broken relationships and dead bodies. It isn't effective; it just results in increased negativity and a whole lot worse.

What is needed is gentleness, or what used to pass as "kill 'em with kindness." Today's Bible study at a local church focused on gentleness as a remedy. A three-step process is required. 1) Be thoughtful. Realize the other party has beliefs and values that are just as valid to them as mine are to me. 2) Be considerate. In short, this encompasses the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). Finally, 3) Be calm. If you rant and rave/get physical, this only serves to escalate the original dispute. Try an "I-Message," as in "I may not agree with you, but that doesn't mean we can't treat each other with respect. I'm in, how about you?" It's worth a try. Who knows, if it catches on, we could have an epidemic on our hands!

Bill Kersting, Spencer