Friday, October 5, 2007

Building Bridges

Belle and I took a trip to Illinois this week. On the way, we met many folks, both two and four-legged, in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. We didn't just pass through their towns as anonymous travelers. We couldn't. In her inimitable way, Belle begs people to say hello. To talk to us. To connect.

From gas stations, to restaurants, to waiting rooms, to sidewalks; every where we went we saw nothing but smiles on the faces of those we passed. If eye contact was made, a conversation was sure to follow.

I thought a lot about Belle's gift on the way home. Her connection to and with others really helped make the long ride bearable. I thought about it again when I read a two day old newspaper this morning and came across an editorial titled A Thousand Ways To Disconnect, And Now A Hugging Ban, Too written by Leonard Pitts, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist. Mr. Pitts was lamenting the most recent way we humans are trying to sanitize our relationships - going so far as to ban hugs between schoolchildren.

How sad!

No, Mr. Pitts - you are not the only one who feels this is a troubling trend. As someone who has been desperately grateful for the many hugs my children have received from classmates, teachers, school officials and others over the past few years, I'm appalled. I don't doubt that there are those that engage in "bad hugging". But to eliminate all hugging strikes me as a far greater form of abuse.

When I realize it takes being with Belle to make myself and others open to each other, I'm saddened for all the neat people I may never get to meet. We need each other to survive in this world. Sometimes that's a messy business. Belle doesn't care. She gently rests her head on my shoulder, stills herself, stands quietly and just lets me hold her. I hope the day will never come that we humans can't or won't do the same.

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