A third option has been added to our interactions with strangers in the 21st century and that is to ignore them. Treat them like objects or obstacles. Treating another person in this way is inherently dangerous because you are skipping that initial phase wherein you size up someones potential to be dangerous to you and jump right into the safety and trust phase wherein it is assumed that its safe to be around them. The problem is those "objects" are human beings and may not assume that that you are not a threat to them. These "obstacles" may not be safe and trustworthy and may pose great danger. This is the point where manners and pleasantries come into the equation. At the very least people should use "please", "thank you", "excuse me", "I'm sorry" and "have a nice day". These kind words should be used liberally when dealing with strangers. Why? Because it is at these initial meetings that form the basis of trust and safety. If pleasantries are not used when someones door bumps yours when opening it in a parking lot or spray your leg when cleaning an adjacent piece of workout equipment, then instead of befriending that stranger and bringing them into your clan, you will kill them and that's not good for society, is it? (NRA members, please do not answer that last question, it was rhetorical.)
I was watching a piece on the Today show yesterday in which there was a girl who was suspended from school for hugging a friend. It turns out there are many school districts in this country where hugging has been banned and is grounds for discipline. What happened to "Hugs Not Drugs"? (Would teachers rather the kids were smoking "J's" at lunch?)
The generation (sorry Boomers, but when you ingest every known substance to man in the hopes of enlightenment and now need to read every label so as not to put anything unhealthy into your body I give you one word, HYPOCRISY!) that professed that "All You Need Is Love" is now the generation that equates hugs with bringing drugs to school, destroying school property, hate crimes and fighting, all offences subject to suspension. In the misguided attempt to ensure safety of some students school officials have taken away a key component in the formation of trust and safety.
Whether it be a fist bump, hand shake or a hug, touch has always been utilized as a way to show good faith and trustworthiness. From a young age, as young as 3 or 4, kids know the difference between a "good touch" and a "bad touch". Why can't school administrators, who are between 40 and 65 years old, discern between good touch and bad touch? I am not advocating "humping in the hallways" of our schools or making out in the back of class, but if its a simple hug, whether it be a morning greeting girl to girl, a man-hug between teammates or a tender high school sweet-heart hug at their lockers, then whats the problem? The problem is that administrators and teachers are too busy to make the distinction between the types of "hugs", so make blanket policies to make their jobs easier.
These policies are driving our children further into a vanilla, self-absorbed society where safety and liability is valued over humanity. School administrators and teachers should spend more time on curtailing "bullying" and identifying troubled students if they want to ensure safety and avoid their school becoming the next Columbine. When you send the messages that hugs are bad, you are sending the message that detachment is good. Detachment is what enabled Kip Kinkel, Seung-Hui Cho, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to kill their classmates. If they were in an inclusive atmosphere where they felt valued and loved could they have mowed down their fellow students as if they were "objects"? Maybe. Maybe they needed a hug. When is the last time somebody died from being hugged to death?
Lastly, I was cleaning leaves from my yard last night. In the dim light of dusk I could see the leaves being blown into piles, but could not see the dog shit that was on the edge of my yard where my unthoughtful neighbors let their dogs dump without cleaning it up. I got a clump of it on my sneakers, traipsed into the house down to my basement where I replaced a furnace filter. As I sat crossed legged on my basement floor, trying to maneuver the filter into place I could smell something horrible. At first I thought a leak has developed in the sewer pipe or an animal had crawled into our heating system and died. I then moved my leg and realized that I had dog shit all over my sneakers, pants and basement floor. Gagging, I ran upstairs and cleaned myself up. When I finally stopped heaving I thought about my revenge. Should I drop trou on their driveway and leave them a gift? Should I light a bag of shit on fire on their doorstep and ring their doorbell. I decided that the next time I see their dog going doody in my yard I'll simply say, "Could you please clean up your dogs poop when he goes in my yard? Thank you." After all, I don't want to be a hypocrite.
Oh, I almost forgot. Have a nice day!