We all love to be on the receiving end of gentleness. It feels wonderful to be treated gently. Yet, on the giving end, we wonder if being gentle can get the job done. We live in a world resistant to change, even change for its own good. If we are going to make a positive difference, surely at times we must act strongly, even harshly.
This reflects our underlying attitude that gentleness is weak, an attitude that is perfectly understandable. We probably all have had the experience of trying gently to get a certain result while no one listens, only to finally get that result when we start shouting.
A Course in Miracles, however, claims that gentleness is strength. In fact, it says that if we want to make a positive difference in the world we will “need the strength of gentleness” (M-4.IV.2). It says that if our tactics are harmful, we will actually be too weak to accomplish what we came here for. This is a total reversal of how we see things. How can it be?
True gentleness is more than just a matter of behavior. It flows from an inner gentleness, a gentle way of seeing. Do you look upon the world through gentle eyes? As people do their crazy dance, do you look on them with narrow, unforgiving eyes, or do you “look with gentle graciousness” (T-19.IV.3)?
This kind of seeing gives rise to the gentleness that is truly strong. Real gentleness has the power to reach inside people and cause change. Perhaps we can remember a time in our own lives when one gentle touch reached us as nothing else could, when one gentle word was more effective than all the shouting. The power of gentleness is the power of love.
More than that, says A Course in Miracles, the power of gentleness is the power of God. According to the Course, God is perfect gentleness yet also infinite power. True gentleness, then, is more than mild behavior, more than mere timidity. It is a state of mind that mirrors the nature of God, and so taps into His infinite power. This is why the truly gentle have been known to perform miracles.
And this is why they will one day inherit the earth. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” The word “meek” here is the translation of a Greek word that actually means “gentle but strong,” which is why many translations now say “the gentle” rather than “the meek.” A Course in Miracles makes the exact same point. After speaking of the strength that comes from never attacking-from gentleness-it says, “This is what is meant by ‘the meek shall inherit the earth.’ They will literally take it over because of their strength” (T-2.II.7). Can you imagine a world ruled by the gentle? What a wonderful world it would be.
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]