August 12, 2009

One Murdered Right...

In our lawsuit-happy world today, I see so many good things being killed in the face of “new liberties” (e.g. I can say/feel/do/believe what I want, but your words/feelings/actions/beliefs infringe on my rights) or misconstrued intentions or just fear itself.

Let’s take something that is so simple, so comforting… so REAL that is becoming almost extinct in the world in which I live: hugging. A hug is something that means so many different things. It is an outreach to a friend who is hurting; it is a symbol of caring between two people; it is an unobtrusive indication of love; it is congratulatory; it is a hello and a goodbye. But in the face of “sexual harassment” or “inappropriate between {two children, adult and child, same sex individuals}” a hug has become something to be cautious of, instead of the spontaneous, warm and giving affection it is meant to be.

Perhaps it is geographical in nature as well. I grew up in a family and area of the world where hugging was just natural. My family hugged. My dad hugged me, my mom hugged me, my sisters hugged me, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins hugged me, my nieces and nephews hugged, my friends hugged me (female or male) and nothing other than care and well-being was meant by it. It was not twisted or unnatural or uncomfortable. It just was as it was meant to be: an outreach, a show of caring, support; a hello or goodbye.

I miss it.

I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it seems so different now. Is it the day and age of the world we live in now… or because of the field or company in which I work… or the new geographical location where I live… or perhaps the stars are aligned differently? I’m not sure, but I do know it’s now very uncomfortable. The cells in my body cry out to hug someone who is crying, but when I do, more often than not, the other person stiffens and is obviously uncomfortable with the touch. Or I stop myself from even starting the action, for fear of the rebuff, or the misunderstanding of my intentions. In the workplace, sexual harassment rears it's ugly presence - always weighing down from above. With most of my friends I have here there are rarely hugs hello or goodbye. If there is a hug, it doesn’t seem natural, or comfortable. I sometimes feel like I’m a visitor from another country with unfamiliar customs.

Even my kids are stiff and unresponsive when I hug them. I have always been expressive with them, and perhaps it is the teen angst years… when hugs and expressions of love are an embarrassment. But I don’t remember feeling embarrassed in my own home when hugging my parents, even if my friends witnessed the event. My kids are stiff and embarrassed even if it’s just the two of us in the kitchen with no witnesses.

Maybe I’m being too simplistic, maybe this isn’t something that will affect the world, but, maybe… just maybe, if we had more hugs, there would be less anger in the world. More hugs and fewer random shootings. More hugs and fewer tears.

Here’s your charge today – just reach out and hug someone today. Anyone (well... choose wisely). For no reason. Desensitize yourself and others to the “oddity” of hugging. Give someone a good squeeze. Make it an every day event. Show you care. Please...HUG!

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