A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart

by | Sep 18, 2020 | Culture and Science of Nonviolence, Self-Transformation | 0 comments

Junior at Kent Meridian High School

Dr. King says, “Life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.” Life is in a constant motion it isn’t all of something and nothing of something else. Life manages to present the most complex of situations and circumstances for each human. There is no laid-out plan to any person’s life of how to act and what to say as life continues to take it path. We cannot expect that a specific personality which emit certain conducts and verbal conversations will work in every aspect of our lives. To think and act like this would be unrealistic. Our characteristics must correspond with the reality of our lives. This means at different moments in life we act or talk according to the context we face. We first must learn how to analyze a setting and lay out a context. Then we must act and speak in a way which helps us navigate the situation, which in turn helps us reach our purpose. To be an organizer, it is required to simultaneously combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove. A tough mind and a tender heart.

Let’s us first define the philosophy behind having a tough mind. It is characterized as analytical thinking, a realistic approach to situations, and having the ability to make clear decisions. A tough mind is sharp and is constantly analyzing to find the truth. A tough minded individual carries a strong commitment towards one’s purpose. As our world is currently prevalent with many lies, lies which we become susceptible to. Often when we read, study or enter a conversation with someone we take it as the finalized truth without digging further. We have also lost the ability to come to our own philosophical conclusions as well as the ability to apply critical thinking to all situations. We have let fear run rampant in our lives and have let the status quo dictate the way we relate to incisive thinking. We’ve have let ourselves fall asleep, allowing a racist, white-supremacist and fascist government over-run our democracy.

Humanity does not have time for us to be asleep. America does not have the luxury of soft-mindedness. However, just like all things requiring tough-mindedness, staying awake does not come easy. Being tough-minded requires us to study, and to constantly stay engaged in learning. It requires us to unlearn a lot of things which society has taught us incorrectly– like the inflation of the self. Tough-mindedness asks us to dialogue with ourselves constantly about what we are doing for our community and the world, and how can we do better. Tough-mindedness asks us to see the reality in life, understanding that there is no such thing as perfectionism and that countless mistakes will be made along the way. Being tough-minded requires that we put down our distractions and pick up the conducts which help us develop our consciousness and our judgement.

But being tough-minded can only get us so far. Humanity also demands a tender heart. Just as politics shouldn’t be separated from passion, a tough-minded person should always be connected to a tender heart. A person who is full hearted is someone who truly loves others. They have the ability to develop meaningful partnerships and emits genuine compassion. She or he understands the necessity for vulnerability in a world which lacks connection because of arrogance. A person who is full hearted is able to understand the interconnection between himself and his brothers and sisters. There is no quantitative or specific algorithm which gives us a straightforward answer to being tenderhearted. In life we go through different experiences which aid in the growth and development of our heart. But we must make an effort to put ourselves into those situations. And before entering those situations, we must learn to connect the dots between how this experience will help create a connection to a global vision of community.           

It is important to remember as we all go through our personal journeys of becoming more tenderhearted, that we must learn to really listen rather than talk.  We need to learn to understand the dreams, the pains, the struggles, and the stories of others. We must forget our own preconceived biases and perspectives, and practice humility. We must not also forget to combine the toughness of the mind in the process in order to avoid submission and cowardice.

We as well cannot simply adjust to circumstances. We cannot indulge ourselves in personal safety and comfort when the future of our world is at stake. This also requires that we aren’t so tenderhearted that we cooperate with an unjust system, and in so doing, become a participant in our acquired fears.

If we wish to move towards the goal of justice and peace, then we must bring together tough-mindedness and tenderheartedness. Utilizing a nonviolent resistance with austerity and gentleness we will be able to oppose an unjust and cruel system. We must use justified means to achieve justified ends, for violence brings only temporary victories and will lead down a path of hate and malice. If we use methods of violence, we will never be able to grow our tender hearts and fear would become our master. We must combine strongly marked antithesis in a realistic balance.

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