"Because thine heart was tender ... I have even heard thee." II Chronicles, 34-27
Give no occasion of stumbling; keep tender; for hardness of heart is worse than an outward plague, for that brings destruction in many ways."
George Fox, Mind the Heavenly Treasure
Since Fox would have witnessed--or at least been alive during--the last of the plagues, the strength with which he believed in "tenderness"--what we might call compassion or sensitivity--is immense. I think of the common use of the f-word and how that word alone tends to coarsen us. It is so easy to get callous. It's interesting that in a world that continues to encourage both a physical and pyschic swaggering and toughness ("get the f. out of my way!"), just as it did in the seventeenth century, Fox, from the great beyond, directs us to put a premium on ... lovingkindness. I believe he is asking for a giving up of self for other, an embrace of vulnerability, and a truly countercultural point of view that values and does not ridicule earnestness and sincerity. Around now, many people are probably asking: who would want to live in that kind of goody-two shoes world? Probably a lot of people who are suffering right now and wouldn't mind an earnest word of kindness. Also, we do remember that people like Fox and Fell are hardly namby-pampy halo heads--their writing is alive with their anger and indignation at what they saw all around them. They were quite interesting and outspoken livewires--but what moved them arose from tenderness. Or so I think. Do you?