Just a little puzzled, you understand. Not judgmental or contemptuous, just puzzled.
"I mean, he's nice and all, but . . . what does he do? What's so great about him?
[Denethor] "But in desperate hours gentleness may be repaid with death."
"So be it," said Faramir.
(That's from the chapter "The Siege of Gondor" in The Return of the King, if anybody wants to know.)
"So be it."
As someone who is very sensitive--and who is learning that that is an actual thing and it's actually okay and it can actually *gasp* be good and productive and beneficial to society--I've experienced this a little in my own life. Sometimes people try to get you to "grow out of" your sensitivity from good motives: they want you to be able to stand on your own two feet emotionally and take life's hard knocks without getting bowled over. But, see, that's the problem: people assume that if you're too soft-hearted, you won't be able to do that. People assume that gentle people are either weak and insufficient or naïve and untried.
And that. Is not. True.
Sometimes, we "highly sensitive" ones know full well that our gentleness opens us up to vulnerability. We know that not trying to strengthen our so-called "fragility" may end up mentally and emotionally wrecking us time and time again. But because we believe that our specific "mode" of sensitivity is a trait that can be harnessed for good, we keep ourselves soft.
I think that Faramir is one of those people. He has a very, very soft--not weak--heart; and despite best efforts from his father, he's self-aware enough to refuse to change that. He knows that his capacity to feel deep pity and compassion for the hurt and the hurting is a GOOD thing. He understands that gentleness is costly, but important.
"So be it."
I think it's worth pointing out that soft people are not necessarily soft because we've never been through anything truly hard. Faramir, at least, certainly isn't. Faramir has faced abuse and loss and national despair. He's a soldier; he's seen bad things. He knows that there is true darkness out there. He's not soft because "he's never had to be anything else". He's gentle by nature, and he stays gentle by choice, when it would almost certainly be easier to be anything but.
"So be it."
That's why I love Faramir. I love him because I feel kinship with him, as someone who is very soft-hearted and sensitive and who is learning to value that instead of grow out of it. I love him because he stays gentle when the world demands that he harden. And I love him because he validates my cherished hope and growing belief: that you can be soft and strong at the same time.
Because to stay gentle in the face of what he goes through? To guard his softness when literally everything in his life would be made at least 70% easier if he "toughened up"? To nurture pity instead of revile it? To cultivate kindness in a hostile atmosphere? And to do that while being a respected, talented, and fully capable army captain?
I think there's strength in that.