Tenderness is the Path of Choice of the Strong

Born from the heart of everyone

When life bounces off us, when people and situations conspire to challenge our positive operating zone, do we choose to see things through the lens of compassion? Do we use what we know to support the projects of others, their growth, and success?

Are we thoughtful and appropriate with our actions? Do we look to expand options for everyone involved? Do we acknowledge our responsibility in creating reality or do we mask, avoid, withdraw, control, label, and attack?

A tide that lifts all boats does not judge the boats… it just lifts them. There's a useful thought experiment for when we're stuck in heavy volume traffic, for example. Imagine what would happen is each driver were to wish for the driver in front of them to get to destination safely, or try to help the one trying to make a left complete the turn by leaving space.

We're all connected, we're all in this together and nobody is getting out of their life alive, as the saying goes.

In a surprise TED Talk in Italian Pope Francis addressed the theme of the event, The Future of You, by saying, “We can only build a future by standing together, including everyone.” With greater power comes greater responsibility.

About tenderness as a virtue he says:

What is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other…

Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. 

Pope Francis also talks about our “culture of waste,” one that is including people with things as objects to be disposed of… as opposed to one of love, which requires a creative, concrete, and ingenious response. The strong, the people who aspire to genius choose tenderness.