St. Francis de Sales said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” I have had the honor to work with and know some true men in the Army and FBI. Those quiet professionals and tender warriors embody St. Francis’ words. They live them each day. They stand in stark contrast to what many in the world define as “manliness.”
As we are constantly bombarded with news, tweets, and social media stories about the events in the world, I find it necessary to reflect on the “real” men I’ve had the privilege to know. One of those men, my art history professor at West Point, spoke five languages, served multiple tours in Vietnam, and had a PhD in literature. He pointed out that many of the paintings and sculptures of great warriors show them reading while their weapons are slung across their backs. They did not find joy in fighting, but did so when called upon. When given the chance, they chose art, family, music and literature over war. The warriors I know are the toughest of men by the world’s standards, but are also the most tender.
I am saddened to watch those who our media often presents as men. Too often they are the antithesis of the real men I’ve known. The warriors I know do not bully, they cherish. They are not cruel, but caring. These men inspire instead of insult. They mentor where others intimidate. They do not need to explain they are strong. They simply are. As we seek role models and leaders, we need to start looking for those who are gentle. For in them, we will undoubtedly find real strength.