Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people


Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people. – Garrison Keillor

What does that mean?
Since I haven’t listened much to Mr Keillor, I will be taking this quote at face value (which may prove humorous to those familiar with his work).

The quote talks about vanity and greed in great quantities (equated to the size of elephants, the largest land animal on the planet). By inference, the people showing these traits are considered as somewhat other than gentle.

The quote finishes by saying that the campfires of gentle people (presumably the opposite of the vain and greedy people) are never far away. To me, this says that there are always gentle people around you. You may have to tune out the din of the vain and greedy people to find them, but they are there.

Why are gentle people important?  
Amid the hustle and bustle of modern life, often times gentleness is forgotten, or pushed aside. It may be for the sake of expediency, to protect one’s place in a line or some otherwise ‘justified’ reason, but it is still pushed aside. And with it, so are the gentle people.

The gentle people usually take it in stride, they are used to it. They just smile and continue on with their lives. They do this not because they are weak, but because they are strong. Strong enough to refuse to sink to the level of the sharp elbows and sharp tongues. Their gentleness has a quiet dignity to it that so many people never notice.

Where can I apply this in my life?
Obviously, there is a place for competition, which is rarely gentle. But even then, it is possible to be gentle. Yesterday, while watching a college football game, a flag was thrown for a late hit out of bounds. While the referee was announcing the penalty, the ball carrier and the defender walked back onto the field with their arms around each other.

Yes, it’s hard to find a more passionate rivalry than Auburn & Alabama, and it’s hard to find a much rougher sport than football, but these two were able to find room for gentleness within that competition. If they can find room for gentleness, I would like to think that we could find room for it in our lives as well.

We have talked about kindness and being calm before, but I think this is just a little bit different. Here, I would like to work on being the opposite of harsh, the opposite of abrasive, the opposite of vain, the opposite of greedy.

What I would do to start is to monitor my harshness, my abrasiveness, my vanity and my greed. To start, grab some paper and write down, for each of the categories listed above, three to six times when you have exhibited more than a tiny bit of that behavior. Take a little time, and be as specific as is necessary.

Looking at each of the sections, do you see a pattern? For me, harshness and abrasiveness are tied to a feelings of frustration and anger, vanity just isn’t me in any way, shape or form; and greed only shows up when I’m thinking about high tech gear and car parts. How about you, any patterns in situations or underlying emotional states?

What I have been doing for some time now is to monitor my levels of frustration and anger. When I detect either beginning to rise, I take counter measures to defuse the frustration or anger. The exact methods and efficacy for doing this will differ from person to person. Keep working on it, eventually you will find a method that works for you.

By stopping these situations from escalating, we can try to prevent ourselves from ever leaving the realm of gentleness. By doing that, we can add ourselves to the list of people sitting around the campfires, the gentle people. They are waiting to welcome in those who are weary of the vain and the greedy, willing to share the campfire and friendship with them.

From: Twitter, @MartinWroe
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/garrisonke153452.html
Photo by Robert S. Donovan

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in common sense, dignity, friendship, kindness, setting an example, strength and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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