Posted Sep 9 2019, 1:33 pm


1945: When the concentration camps were liberated, G.I.’s saw many small children, 11 -12 years old, but tragically they looked like 6 -7. They had very large bellies, and hadn’t smiled for years. The G.I.’s gave them chocolate. They were so emaciated. They all became sick. The next day the G.I’s gave them soup. The children loved it.

One child was sitting by himself, away from the soup line, staring at the other children. His eyes were bulging, but he didn’t move. One G.I. went over to this child. The child couldn’t get up. He was too weak. The G.I. began talking to him. He touched his cheek, put him on his lap and gave him a gentle hug.

Suddenly the starving children in the soup line, left and formed a line in front of the G.I. with this child on his lap. They all wanted a hug. They were starving for food, but starving, even more, for a hug.

FAST FORWARD to 1990: Lee Shapiro was a retired judge in San Francisco. At one point in his career, he realized, “love is the greatest power there is.” As a result, he became a hugger. He gave hugs to everyone he met, even if he didn’t know them. Lee once visited a hospital. He came across Leonard who had been a patient at the hospital for 23 years. There was little hope for his condition to improve.

Lee bent down and gave Leonard a kiss on the forehead and hugged him. Leonard began to squeal with delight. The nurses began to applaud. When Lee asked them the reason for the celebration, he was told that this was the first time in 23 years that they had observed Leonard smiling. That hug restored new life in Leonard.

FAST FORWARD to March 2019: A friend, who works for an investment company told me his office received a directive from their headquarters that no physical contact between employees, including hugging and shaking the opposite sex’s hand will be permitted, even when congratulating that person for an accomplishment. This was pre COVID-19.

FAST FORWARD to April 2020: COVID-19. Social distancing. No hugging, shaking hands or touching.

This is not the present or future I want to see. Lee Shapiro realized how simple it was to make a difference in the lives of others. I realize how giving a simple hug, to make a difference in someone’s life, is so much more difficult in today’s world. Fear of infection, political correctness, irrationality and a misguided sense of what is right and good is smothering our society, while inhibiting many of us who want to express our genuine feelings, with just a simple hug.

Unless we change the direction political correctness is taking us and we conquer the virus, future quotes may read:

Love thy neighbor as thyself, but never hug them.”

To hug or not to hug. That is the question/dilemma.”

My father, who I greatly respected for his wisdom and common sense, told me, when faced with a difficult decision, ask yourself this one question; What is the right thing to do? Then do it!

I want my children, grandchildren and future generations to have the conviction that a caring hug can and will make the world a better place and knowing that giving a hug is the right thing to do.

It is hoped that the day will never come when we will see signs on street corners saying, “No hugging. Violators will be prosecuted.”

Ken Rubin

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