Dear old and new friends,
“Americans unfortunately can only speak with their mouths” is a humorous observation of foreigners, often emphasized by “Tie an Italian’s hands behind his back, and he’s speechless.” Other than the sign language of the hearing impaired, rarely do Americans use their hands to communicate.
I recall a true and pathetic story I once heard from a doctor about a young couple who brought to him their baby who was dying. After questioning them he discovered this highly educated, young couple, wishing not to spoil their newborn infant, had decided never to pick up, carry, or even touch their baby, even when it cried. The task of changing his diaper was “clinically” performed so there was minimal touching of their baby. Shaking his head the physician said, “Your baby will be dead soon unless you give him over to me.” The parents agreed, and the physician took the small infant across town to an Italian mother of a large family. He presented her with the infant saying, “Here, please take this baby! Just love him since he is dying from not being touched!” The happy ending, as you’ve guessed, is that the “handled” baby lived and thrived.
A recent report on touch revealed that during a certain period of time Latin Americans touched over 110 times, Americans two times and the British—never! Our personalities and how we interact with others relates back to how we personally were touched or handled. Young or old, love’s language of touching says, “You are loved, you belong, you are wanted,” all which inspire self-confidence and self-worth. Touch has magical powers to speak the unspeakable and to impart forgiveness and acceptance. The impact of touch is so direct because we are encapsulated in a sensitive skin-covered body that unconsciously responds to being touched with loving affection or in anger. Regrettably, there are those living among us “who are out of touch with reality,” and sadly those “who are out of touch with loving.”
The red roses of last week’s Valentine’s Day by today have wilted and the Belgian chocolates have been eaten, so do “something touching” for those you love today—and every day. Strive when expressing appreciation or affection to frequently use the wordless language of touch. A gentle hand on an arm, an affectionate hug or embrace, even a kiss blown across the room has the power to reaffirm an aged love and to heal a wounded one.
No one is a prisoner of the past or any culture! Reformation is a perpetual possibility! Begin yours by busting out of your stiff North American cocoon and become more Latin American—and discover you are more fully human.