"gentleness is stronger than severity"
Gentleness (1861), by Jean Marcellin (1821-1884). West façade of the Cour Carrée in the Louvre palace, Paris.
Creative Commons AttributionGentleness (1861), by Jean Marcellin (1821-1884). West façade of the Cour Carrée in the Louvre palace, Paris. - Credit: Jastrow
Gentleness as a virtue and a trait is upheld by most religions, socio-educational and politico-legal systems.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

- Galatians 5:22-23, the Holy Bible

There is usually a thin line between severity and gentleness in the context of handling subordinates, children and in some cases the non-conformists to the larger framework of society comprising of religion, politics, social and religious norms. When the tempering effect of gentleness is lost and it becomes conducive to rebellious behaviour or relentless disobedience, there is no other way than to resort to severity.  As Pierre Corneille says, "Severity is allowable where gentleness has no effect."