Tenderness

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August 9, 2021-

Tenderness, Mutual caring, Each for another.

The above is a Hay(na)ku- a 1-2-3 verse, containing six words, lined as shown.

I saw nothing but tenderness, yesterday, between the three girls and their Nanny. The kids looked after one another, and each other’s personal items. Ages six, seven and nine, they showed no jealousy or lack of understanding, when encouraging each other in their impromptu exercise routines. The woman, for her part, showed the girls the proper way to stretch and kept a light, but constant, vigilance, respecting both the girls’ emotional awareness and the nature of the group.

Tenderness comes a bit harder, when one is tasked with maintaining order in a larger group setting, with people who may not have experienced it very much, in their overall lives. Prisons, mental hospitals, residential schools, and overcrowded, underfunded day schools conjure the notion of ludicrosity, when tenderness is mentioned. It does indeed take a different form, but acknowledging another person’s pain has happened in settings as horrific as concentration camps and plantations of the enslaved.

Tenderness is a key to many things: Resilience, reconciliation, resolution of disputes and the recovery of communities, among them. It is not weakness, but it is the realization of a commitment to pay attention to the needs of others, on a level at which they are equal to oneself.