Twenty-nine years ago, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, George HW Bush called for a kinder, gentler nation. Although I may or may not have been a supporter of Mr. Bush, those words have always stuck with and I have tried to make them almost a motto for my life, my words and my actions.
Now, nearly three decades later, I think that this is even more necessary for our lives, not only in our nation (I am not here to write anything political) but in our daily lives, and even in our church. We need to be kinder to one another, we must be gentler in our words, actions and attitudes. Perhaps when I was younger, I might have been bolder, fiercer in pushing my beliefs around; to be honest, I don’t remember. Perhaps it is because of my life in Japan, where such aggressive attitudes are unacceptable, I have long ago come to realize that fighting with kindness is much more effective than returning with aggressive responses. I am not talking about political rallies and protests; I am speaking about our life, in our families, neighborhoods and church. There are groups and individuals who rarely have a nice thing to say, or a nice way of putting things. I am not a fan of the “in your face” mentality. Being kinder and gentler is easy on your stress level and blood pressure as well. In the Beatitudes, which we read during the Gospel last weekend, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “Blessed are the meek”. In a few weeks, we will hear the passage where Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Strong armed tactics. Attitudes or self-righteousness and superiority. Words which cut down others, even those with whom we disagree. None of this should have a place in our lives. I am not speaking of warm, cozy and fuzzy feelings. We need not be running around hugging all the time; nor do we need to be sentimental, with tears welling up in our eyes. I mean, rather, a mature attitude of treating all people with respect. Of watching our words and actions carefully, rather than quoting the First Amendment to support the fact that. “I am free to say whatever I want…or however I want to.”
May we all strive to become kinder and gentler.