Recently a colleague, Beth from Cadboro Bay United Church, took her youth group to a local mall to re-enact their own version of the U Tube Hugs download. Having not seen the download, I will describe it you as Beth did to me. Essentially a group of people get together, they have a few signs saying free hugs. They walk up to strangers and offer hugs. The process ends up taking people out of their normal routine, to be transformed in the contact of a Hug.
Beth, seeing a way to show youth an experiencial side of transformation and to relate it to a life of faith, thought this would be good to try at a local mall. While the experiment work, I gather it was quite disappointing as mall security was hyper vigilant and did not respond well to this odd act occurring in their midst. I mean they weren't stealing, soliciting, selling drugs or any of the other rotten things that folks are often picked up for at the mall. Since this display went out of the norm for the security personnel, it was interesting to hear about their reaction. I gather even if they would have asked for permission prior too there would have been issues, but one has to wonder, what issues could there be. Either someone freely will step up for a hug or they will walk away. But it goes to show something about our society. How hard we try to limit not only expression, but harmless fun that might transform someones life, if even for a moment.
I know when Craig was posted out of province for 3 years and we only saw one another every few months, that I would have loved opportunities to get free hugs with out any sexual undernotes, just human contact and sharing. I mean working in the military, hugging is not appropriate, (though i will confess I give them while in uniform if they are needed.) I can think of seniors who have no family or family close by who an opportunity to get a hug from a young person would be very welcome.
This story has given me some food for thought though. I have come to the conclusion that hugs do not equal security for some.