I was thinking about the strength needed for tenderness, how people express tenderness in daily life, and how the concept of tenderness is often incorrectly perceived in the world.

Tenderness is one of humanity’s greatest strengths. Do not underestimate it. Tenderness as gesture and action can help heal a soul or sew up a wound. It can connect one person with another at great times of sorrow or turbulence as well as in more ordinary moments. Who doesn’t forget the moments in one’s life that someone, out of tenderness, reached out a hand of kindness at a desperate or frightening moment? And that kindness, that compassion, that tenderness, made that moment bearable, and gave one the strength to live on, to move forward.

Tenderness is expressed every day by people. We can see it around us. Tenderness may be extended in times of crisis or in ordinary times. It can come from a stranger or from someone you know well. When my son was hospitalized and I was scared out of my mind, a large male nurse with long dreadlocks embraced me in a bear hug, and I cried. Tenderness. When I lost my keys in the snow at the end of a long work day and went in the rest room to vent alone, a coworker came in, put a hand on my shoulder, asked what happened, and helped me retrace my steps to find my car keys. Tenderness. What they said, in a desperate and in an ordinary moment, mattered, and it changed how I felt and how I proceeded.

We are living in a time that often defines strength as forceful aggressiveness toward others. I disagree. It takes more strength for a parent to stay up all night nursing a sick child and go to work the next day than it takes for someone to tweet inflammatory statements on impulse. Caring and tenderness take much more energy and much more strength.

Here is the Google definition of tenderness: (Note: this is the first listing and the non-medical definition.)

gentleness and kindness.
“he picked her up in his arms with great tenderness”
synonyms: kindness, kindliness, kindheartedness, tenderheartedness, compassion, care, concern, sympathy, humanity, warmth, fatherliness, motherliness, gentleness, benevolence, generosity
“with unexpected tenderness, he told her what had happened”

Applaud anyone who shows these traits. Who wouldn’t want to self-define this way?

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