But, I’ll start with an anecdote. My colleague Kevin and I were having a hug-fest on the streets of Manhattan, along with an acquaintance I’ll call “Robert.” Hug-fests are simple: we just offer hugs to people, and give them if they say they want one. It’s extremely fun. Then we got onto the subway, and, as so often happens on New York subways, a woman entered the car and began making a speech about needing money.
Kevin and I grew up in NYC and have been hardened to these sob stories and pleas, but our friend Robert felt differently. He got up, stood in front of the woman and said “Ma’am, I don’t have any money, but I can give you a hug.”
Needless to say, I was mortified. I have seen panhandlers get angry and aggressive with harmless bystanders. Robert could be hurting her pride or crossing a personal boundary or something else terrible!
But of course, the woman agreed to the hug and was furthermore totally touched by the gesture. I admitted I was wrong and gave her a hug too. So did Kevin. Within 5 minutes, our whole half of the subway car was hugging each other. It was a beautiful thing and a very pleasant reality check.
Now I always offer a hug to someone asking for money. That is, if I decide that the person is clean enough and not dangerous (even when being generous, we must be good to ourselves). I’ve had many amazing experiences now that I’ve adopted this practice. I’ve had a man cry in my arms while I was waiting for the New Jersey Transit, and a woman who said she had been abused cling to me just a moment longer than I expected.
People need hugs, and the ones who need them the most are often the ones who get them the least.
So I call out to all giving people: LET US BRING HUGS TO THOSE IN NEED! LET US RAIN OXYTOCIN UPON THE COLD CITY OF NEW YORK! AND ALL OVER THE WORLD!
In order to make this fun and official-seeming, I designed the above certificate to be printed and signed by those who wish to join the cuddle revolution. It has been fake authorized by President Barack Obama, but I can do other signatures if you request them by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be updating it and posting the new and printable one hopefully tomorrow so WATCH OUT!
We request that anyone who accepts the position of “Giver of Epic Hugs” adhere to the principles of Trust, Consent, and Sincerity. I.e., you must be trustworthy and demonstrate trust when entering another person’s personal space, you must receive consent for any hug offered before engaging, and you must give your hugs with a full two-arm squeeze (being careful not to crush any ribs if you happen to be really strong).
We believe that hugs are more important than money. So donate a hug (official or not) to your local person in need. I assure you they will appreciate it, and they won’t use it to buy drugs.