Sometimes things come out of nowhere and effect you. My interwebz surfing generally centers around funny stuff. I have a few sites I go to on a regular basis including the Scrw Media sites. This site started as an attempt to be cool enough to contribute to urlybits.com (where I got this video.) I have been lucky enough to be friends with the founders Paul and Sara O’Flaherty for a year now. Anyway, I was cruising around because they have the best of the funny and the cool when I stopped to watch this video that Paul posted:
I cried like an emo little girl. I watched it three times and cried all three times. I will probably watch it again after I post this and cry again.
Okay, I know that I am apparently a dirty hippie, and I believe in happiness and rainbows and kindness and crap. I used to believe I was a misanthropic misfit that hated all thing pop culture and all of that bullshit. Truth is I have always been a bit of one those crazy people who have always been positive in spite of myself. So, of course this made me cry. I have the strangest set of biases ever.
I have thought all afternoon about why this video effected me so much. I think I have figured out some of it.
My most superficial reaction is: “Who the hell wouldn’t be a bit weird-ed out by someone standing in the middle of the street wanting hugs. That is so Pedobear.” (If you don’t know who pedobear is then you fail at the interwebz. Here, educate yourself.)
I hate this reaction. I hate that I had it.
I have this strange habit of giving total strangers compliments. I will go out of my way to tell someone that I like something they have or have done and I always try to tell parents if their kids are cute or well-behaved, normally in front of the child. I have embarrassed the hell out of some my friends and family by doing this. Honestly, I don’t care. I believe in telling people good things. I know how a compliment can make a day better or make someone walk taller. I know giving someone a compliment can make them a little happier. So what if I look like an ass?
The thing that stuck with me after the girl got raped in the parking lot of my old work place is that she was obviously in distress for a long time, and I did nothing to help her until she came to us. I felt low, very very low, that I let a child be in pain and did not help until she came to me, and then only after I saw the blood and it became real. It was this societal taboo on interference in strangers lives that kept me from walking over to her and asking her if she was okay. I decided that I was going to ignore that societal idea of non-interference and try to do what was right whenever I could.
My first thoughts were negative and ugly. I retreated back to that bullshit mindset of total self-involvement and mistrust of anyone willing to be open to the world.
Then that young big guy breaks from his group of friends and goes up and hugs the bear. That was an everyday act of bravery; he did something even though no one else would. (This is where the tears started to pour.)
Enter the video of all of the hugs. It was this simple and beautiful act of hugging someone and meaning it. I cried because all of these people were made so happy by this unexpected connection with another person. These people were doing something that I might not have had the courage to be open to. (For the record, I get why the parents were hesitant to let their kids walk up to a stranger in a teddy bear costume.)
What really hit me, though, is the end. The man took off the mask, and the tag line popped up, and I felt like such a douche cannon. The tagline is true. Honestly, I think most people would have been hesitant to hug anyone not in a costume, and the costume makes it easier it break through that barrier, but I KNOW most people (myself included) would have never hugged a stranger that had a visible disability.
That man brought so much joy to so many people simply by dressing up in a suit and hugging them. Without the suit, no one would have stopped, and they would have missed out on that joy.
It wasn’t just the disability. It is the strange aversion we have to openness because we might get hurt or something bad might happen.
I need to do better. I need to be braver. There is a lot of good that can come from being open and I don’t want to miss it from fear of the bad.
Tomorrow compliment strangers, you will see what I mean.