The expression, “Iron fist in a velvet glove”, has always seemed evocative. In my mind it conjures images of great statesman, of the manipulators that exist in epic fantasy sagas and gritty dramas, of the people that exist in the shadows and pull the strings, forcing everyone else to dance to their own unassailable rhythm. It makes me imagine people who, on the surface, are courteous and caring, but who when pushed by circumstance reveal themselves as immovable entities that stand firm and do not yield, no matter the pressure. And I’d always thought that it’d be good to be like that. To be soft on the surface and hard at the core. To be willing to yield, but only to a degree. But upon reflection I would alter the metaphor. Instead of trying to be an iron fist in a velvet glove, I think it is better to be a hand of courage in a glove of kindness.
Courage—be it intellectual, physical, or moral—is something that all of us are going to need at some point in our lives. It is not an option, but a necessity. But kindness? We can scrape through without it, indeed. But the world will be a worse place, for ourselves and for others. A world filled with courage and devoid of kindness is a hard world. An inhuman world. And I want no part of it. So I will strive to be a fist and wear a glove. But I will choose courage and kindness as my material, instead of iron and velvet.