The Need for Touch

The Need for Touch

“Hand over hand
Doesn’t seem so much
Hand over hand
Is the strength of the common touch”-Rush

Humankind needs touch. Not simply in a sexual manner, but in general as well. It helps us connect with one another and the world. Touch is energy. When we touch, we share energy that permeates all nature. That’s why there is so much more to massage, hugs, and other forms of touch that bring energy and even healing to us. The ancients knew this, but modern society has forgotten. We could heal so much of the pain and suffering in the world if we would simply touch more.

We, in the West, have become more fearful of touch. We’ve even come to the point where we believe all touch either has a sexual component to it or is simply bad It’s not, expect when that touch is forced or coerced. Rather, touch is necessary. Humanity cannot survive without touch. Psychological studies have shown what the lack of touch does to a sentient being. Take, for example, the baby monkeys used in psychologist Harry Harlow’s experiments.

In his experiments, he separated rhesus monkey babies from their mothers shortly after birth. He gave them a choice of a “mother” made of bare wire and one of the same bare wire covered with a soft cloth. His experiment first found “that monkeys who had a choice of mothers spent far more time clinging to the terry cloth surrogates, even when their physical nourishment came from bottles mounted on the bare wire mothers”(Herman). He went so far as to make it so that both types of surrogates provided milk, but still noticed that the “Monkeys who had soft, tactile contact behaved quite differently than monkeys whose mothers were made out of cold, hard wire”(Herman). Taking it further, he introduced “strange, loud objects, such as teddy bears beating drums” and found that the “monkeys raised by terry cloth surrogates made bodily contact with their mothers, rubbed against them, and eventually calmed down”, while those raised by the bare wire ones “threw themselves on the floor, clutched themselves, rocked back and forth, and screamed in terror”(Herman). It was the touch that made the difference. A soft, caring touch created a calming and stable effect on the monkeys. He tied the results of these experiments to children in adoption situations versus those in institutionalized situations (Herman).

This was not lost on the Chinese as in many of their orphanages they have connected them to senior living establishments to facilitate touch between the babies and the elderly knowing that both will benefit from touch. While not ideal, it still has a positive effect on babies when it comes to their later adjustment when adopted from the orphanages.

We date, pair with someone or with multiple partners, and marry to experience touch on an intimate level. Without it, relationships and marriages suffer. While the leading cause of divorce is attributed to financial reasons, I’d hazard to guess that lack of intimacy is either second or an underlying reason. Perhaps one reason for premarital sex is the need for touch with someone aside from family members. In teens, it may be to simply connect with someone who is going through similar changes and explore touch in ways that will help them understand their future mates. It is obvious that self-touch occurs often as a way of exploring what feels good, so it would follow that sharing touch with another person flows from that.

We need touch. A relatively recent therapy, Cuddle Therapy, shows this need is rising. In it, people pay a professional cuddler to simply hold them for a certain time frame. There is no sex and both the cuddler and person being cuddled are fully clothed. It is simply being touched and held that matters. Ada Lippin, CEO and co-founder of Cuddlist, puts it this way:

“We’re touch-deprived, and most of us don’t know it consciously. All we know is that there’s loneliness and stress and a deep sense of missing out. We feel this because there’s a biochemical yearning for something that is missing in our lives. And there is something missing: touch and the connection with others that it fosters”(Cuddlist).

Biblically, the numerous accounts of Jesus healing others came through touching them. There is even an instance where he was unable to go to the person needing healed and simply sent his healing energy to the person and healed them.

There is an energy within touch or even the proximity of someone touching us that can heal us. This is the basis of a form of massage called Reiki wherein the both the person and the practitioner are fully clothed. The practitioner places his or her hands either on the patient or just above the patient and allows the energy of touch to help heal the body naturally. It needs noted that most responsible practitioners of Reiki also know when modern medicine is necessary and consider their form of help to be used in conjunction with modern medicine. Yet, there is a certain power in the simple hand positions used in Reiki that helps both the patient and the healer feel better.

Touch can heal the world. Touch is very powerful. Touch is what the world needs more of to heal us all.

Works Cited

Cuddlist. Https://cuddlist.com

“Hand over Fist Lyrics.” Lyrics.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. Feb. 2018. .

Herman, Ellen. Harry F. Harlow, Monkey Love Experiments. The Adoption History Project. University of Oregon. 24 February 2012. http://pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/studies/HarlowMLE.htm. 7 February 2018.

The Problem of Walls and Weapons

The tragedy in Paris, as well as Kenya and Lebanon, should send reminders of the fragility of human life in our modern age. Instead, it is fostering a growth in a continued movement for nations to erect walls and allow more weapons to be used to separate and kill people who are not like “us”. Think about that for a moment and consider the following.

More weapons will not stop atrocities like the events in Paris, Kenya, or Lebanon from occurring. A common message sent out from certain aspects of society, particularly in the United States, tries to state that had there been more guns in the hands of the innocent people in Paris, then the atrocity would not have occurred. They state this somehow believing it as solid fact. However, one cannot know if that is true or not. While there might have been fewer people killed, there also could have been may more killed in a crossfire between those who committed the atrocity and those who were trying to defend themselves. In addition, it is alleged that those who committed this heinous act were also prepared to die at all cost, including the use of suicide bombs as what happened near the stadium. I doubt more firearms could have stopped the bombers from committing their horrendous acts.

Then there is the call for walls to be built, either literally or figuratively, to keep out immigrants and refugees because it is currently assumed that one or more of the terrorists carried passports from Syria, the homeland of the majority of those same refugees. While it is horrible that this may be the case, what about the thousands more who are not the aggressors, but the victims of the aggressors? There are thousands of people who are fleeing for their lives from the violence caused by ISIL/ISIS. The majority of them are simply trying to survive, not flee to the West to commit violent acts.

Besides, walls don’t work to keep people, good or bad, out. If someone wants to get around a wall, he or she will find a way to do so. Centuries ago, China built a wall to keep out aggressors. It was breached. Each day, hundreds of people cross the walls and boundaries of countries as they seek a better life. Some remain, and some are deported back to where they came.

But there are other walls that become built that are unseen. These are the walls that separate people in a more social sense than a physical one. One wall is prejudice and the other is fear. These two walls are ones that are sometimes insurmountable, not because of their size, but because of how people latch onto them with such fervor. These unseen walls cause us to place barriers between one another. Sometimes, these walls are in the form of words we use to label large groups of people as being bad based on the actions of a few people who look like the group or happen to worship using the same terms as that group does.

Right now, it happens to be Muslims who are being portrayed by media and certain elements of society as being nothing but bad people. They are called terrorists as a whole based on the actions of an extreme few of those who hide behind what is a peaceful religion. The vast majority of Muslims want nothing but to live in harmony within their communities as well as those places where they live among non-Muslims. The majority feels the need to pay for the sins of the few as they are pressured to speak out against acts of terror or be seen as supporting it. Yet, if people from a different religious background commit an atrocity, the innocent of those backgrounds are not pressured to speak out. If a Christian person commits an atrocity, there is no call for all Christians to speak out against it. If a Jewish person commits an atrocity, there is not call for all Jewish people to speak out against it. Only the Muslims. Yet, there are some who continue to say that if they don’t, then they are guilty of the supporting the crimes committed by the few.

The problem is not with religion, it is with people in general. The problem is not with needing more walls, but needing fewer ones.

That’s right, I said fewer walls to separate people. The walls of ignorance, fear, hate, oppression, poverty, war, and famine need to be torn down. In their place, we need to build one thing up above all else. We need to build up our fellow humankind. We need to end wars, and start spreading peace. We need to replace hate with love. We need to eradicate poverty and build plenty. We need to educate others so they may have what they need, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

A recent article I read was one where the interviewer had the rare opportunity to speak with ISIS prisoners of war in Iraq. The vast majority of those who were interviewed did not join ISIS for religious reasons, but for economic and emotional ones. They were starving and this terrorist organization promised them a way out. The terrorist organization gave them someone to blame for their problems, in this case, the West. While some of that is true since, while many of these people’s lives were bad under Saddam Hussein in Iraq, their lives became worse once he was deposed as civil war broke out in their country based on centuries old hatreds. Some joined out of fear that if they didn’t, then they and their families would die.

As I read the article, something occurred to me. The reason why many of these people joined was similar to why people join street gangs. Some fear that if they don’t, then they will die. Others do it as gang life promises them a sense of belonging and/or prosperity. Some join because they are so far in poverty that they need someone to blame and the gang tells them who to blame for their situation. This is not unlike those who voluntarily joined the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. It is not unlike those who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South. It is not unlike those who join militia groups in modern society or other fringe, hate-filled groups. The majority of people who do so are looking for more in their life in some way and the gang persuades them that gang life is the way they can have or be more than who they are.

There needs to be an alternative to this lifestyle to make it stop. Rather than waging war in countries against people, there needs to be a fight for better living conditions. A fight for jobs. A fight for equality for all people regardless of who he or she is or what he or she believes. There needs to be education for all people to understand different cultures and religions as find common ground between them rather than what is different about them. Education is a powerful weapon against hate, fear, and violence. When humankind understands differences, then it becomes harder to fear or hate them. Instead, there becomes a natural instinct to try to see the similarities. But this only occurs with the chance to learn about our differences in a non-biased fashion. It comes with knowing who we are as individuals and facing our fears, prejudices, and ignorances, acknowledging them, and going beyond them to build understanding.

None of this means we have to like the way others are. It doesn’t mean we have to become like who others are. It does mean we must respect our differences and embrace our similarities. We must learn to love one another, whether we like them or not. For some people, this is seen as being too politically correct, as if that is a bad thing. However, it is actually being more humane to our fellow humankind.

Will this end all the problems instantly? No, there is no quick fix as many hope. It took time to build the walls, it will take time to tear them down as well. But it’s worth it.

The late Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This rings so true for our world today. Peace can only come through light, never darkness. Hope can only thrive where all humankind sees one another as one rather than as many.