One of the most important things about human beings; we love to be touched.
Okay so some people say they don’t, but they have reasons for that. I’ll qualify it. Most normal well balanced people like to be touched. We are, although thinly disguised, descended from great apes. We’re clever, adaptable creatures with an amazing facility for pretending to be something that we’re not. We’re just clever vaguely civilised monkeys for the most part.
Monkeys are very social animals. They like to sit together, they like to groom each other, they form communities. Humans like the same things, we like to be sociable, we like to belong, we like to be near a group of other people to more the better. And better than that we like to touch and be touched. It’s true.
Picture if you will a sporting event, concert, public house, bar, party, or any other human gathering. We find excuses to touch each other, rub along beside one another, jostle, pat, stroke, hug and even embrace. Drunk people are always hugging everyone. We can’t help ourselves; we are a creature of touch, sensual animals who experience the world through our amazing sensitive skin, our probing fingers, our mouths, our tongues. Watch a child playing. It’s all about touch.
So, if we are as beings all about touch, why are we trying so hard to eliminate it from our lives?
There is nothing so cruel and harsh as the withholding of touch. Couples who have lost intimacy, or desire to do so, withhold touch making each other desperate and crazy. Lonely people often touch strangers secretly. Sometimes they get caught.
We are so paranoid about strangers touching our children we are making them afraid of touch. There was a time strangers could comment on your beautiful children and pat them on the head and shake their hands without you calling the police on your cell. There was a time, and not that long ago, when a middle aged man could stroke a child’s face and take pleasure in how soft and new and wonderfully full of promise and joy the child was. Then he’d go on his way with nothing more sinister on his mind than a glow of satisfaction and gratitude for life, a confidence that the next generation was taking the torch and carrying it forward into the centuries to come… In the naughties (ironic name huh?) he would be simply and brutally billy-clubbed to his knees, cuffed and taken into custody for processing as a sex offender.
Why are we afraid of a touch? It’s one of our basic human rights, one of our basic needs. We need to be touched, and need even more for someone to want to touch us. Lonliness is a killer, and the thing that kills is the death of our sensitivity to touch. Lonely people grow angry that nobody wants to touch them and so deny it to themselves and everyone else. Maybe these noisy frothing legislators, child safety activists and politicians weren’t touched by their mommies enough. Just packaged off to boarding school without a kiss or a hug. Maybe that’s why they want us to be afraid, lonely, angry, suspicious and insular.
Just like them.