Where have all the hugs gone?

For the most part, hugs are gone — wiped out by the political-correctness mob who rise up with moral righteousness to stop free speech and free expression and as a result, no hugs — symbolic of all that ails us.

Maybe the more apt term is political incorrectness. There’s a blurring of the lines that separate the two beliefs. I recognize too, that you might think I am naïve to urge more civility in the cause of lowering the national temperature. I am not naïve. Rather I want to push our leaders to lead us and to quit hammering each other with nonsensical positions that lack common sense. Just to be clear, I’m including all parties.

Once upon a time in the kingdom of innocence, men and women in the workplace could embrace for a quick moment of emotion; a celebration, a triumph or even a poignant sadness. Hugging, the precursor of high fives, was, and still is, a metaphor for human contact.

Hugs still exist in the sports world, but not so much in other locations. The PC legions have co-opted many of our country’s niceties. Today, we have the politically incorrect mandate of “Look, Ma, no hands.”

Our schools are controlled by strict and lengthy Big Brother-like rules. School children are prohibited from expressing physical fondness for classmates and teachers. And now, some schools ban Christmas themes. No tree, no singing carols, no Santa Claus. What are we doing to ourselves by this relentless practice of political correctness?

Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell’s “1984,” would not be a stranger, should he suddenly appear. He tells us that “Big Brother” is watching. He goes on to mention the “Thought Police.” Mr. Smith works in the Ministry of Truth. OK, but exactly whose truth comes out of his building? The descendants of Orwell’s make-believe world are with us today. I call them “Misguided Do-Gooders.”

We have the constitutional right to speak freely, but witness the forums some universities have presented where the speaker is heckled or shut down — if the ideas expressed are not in accordance with those of the students or even the professors. “Go somewhere else, not on our campus.” Where, if not here?

The founding fathers had debates, arguments, and all sorts of disagreements. The Federalists wanted an overreaching government. The “States-First” contingent stood for states over (or at least equal to) the federal government. Discourse was reasonably civil; a compromise was struck and a great country was formed.

However, we have now allowed ourselves to be taken over by one side, drowning out the other. We’ve lost our way with explosive, uncivil rhetoric. It comes from everywhere — the airwaves, the daily talk shows on television, the newspapers, cyberspace, and the supermarket where someone, adding a rude word, cuts you off with a shopping basket. What about the road rage facing us every minute on the freeways from drivers who think it’s their personal highway? It’s not. We all own it. We all paid for it.

I will always be apolitical in this column. My approach is to try to turn down the flame on the rhetoric. There are more of us in the middle of the always-fervent two major parties. We need to find the gumption of our forefathers to quiet this loud and noisy crowd by insisting they realign their political platforms. Perhaps we can awaken the timid among us who have witnessed, and maybe experienced, political correctness first hand.

Let’s get back to the core values. Let’s start with courtesy and respect. In fact, go hug someone. Carefully.


GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. He can be reached via e-mail at gpep@aol.com, or by phone at (818) 790-1990.

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