Lowland Gorillas are the largest of all the primates and are immensely powerful. A male Lowland can weigh over 500 pounds and has the strength of about twelve adult men.
Yet for all their ferocity and power, gorillas respond well to gentleness and a soft voice. A 38-year-old Lowland Gorilla from the San Francisco Zoo demonstrated this. Koko is the gorilla who became famous for learning 1000 words in hand-signing and understanding 2000 words in spoken English.
Koko was also known to be a passionate fan of a certain television personality. Every single day, Koko insisted on watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. It seems that Koko loved Mr. Rogers for the same reason that three generations of children loved him and grieved his loss in 2003 when he died. Fred Rogers’ kind and gentle manners and speech seemed to reach into the hearts of people. Mr. Rogers touched Koko’s heart as well.
Finally she got to meet Mr. Rodgers in person. On July 28, 1998, Fred Rogers visited Koko at her home in California. Her response when he arrived? Koko wrapped her long arms around him to hug him, signed the message “Love you, visitor, Koko love,” and then, very gently, removed his shoes—just like he always did on his TV show.
You know, we have this idea that we will not be heard or our words taken seriously in the work place unless we raise our voice and throw in some profanity and vulgarity. We often think shouting and threatening is a display of strength. Yet such an approach, unless used very sparingly, generates resentment, opposition, rage, and proves hopelessly inefficient. Gentleness and kindness are far more effective—among both beasts and humans. Wise King Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words only stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
Dear Father in heaven, help me to honor those in my home and in my workplace by treating them as I wish to be treated. Please grant that my words may be acceptable in Your sight and encouraging to others. Amen.
In article photo: Koko hugs Rogers. 1998 (Buzzfeed)