Do you know who Kid President is? If not, I strongly urge you to get to know this young whiz man/wise man. I found his videos a few years ago and was taken by his innocence and ageless wisdom. He spoke of people getting along, across all culturally created barriers and being inclusive. Boy, do we need that now. He continues to encourages unity with the words, “Don’t be in a party. Be a party.” Now, at 12 years old, Robby Novak; the host of this presidential party, is in full swing.
Three years ago, I felt moved to write about his journey and the ways in which he impacted my life and inspired me.
A few days ago, I saw a meme with the Robby inspired words: “Haters gonna hate and huggers gonna hug” scrawled across a t-shirt. I smiled, since hugging is one of the best ways I know to melt the heart of hatred. I organize FREE Hugs events throughout the country and carry signs which proclaim that I am a ‘Hugmobster armed with love’. On Election Day, I hugged at my polling place and on a street corner of a nearby small town. People of all political stripes were there and most willingly embraced me and hopefully, positive change.
I have hugged it out at the Memorial Day parade (famously known as the longest running in the country) in Doylestown and the Independence Day parade in Philadelphia. There I wrapped my arms around a man in a Darth Vadar costume who reminded me that ” Bad guys need hugs more than anyone.” I brought it to the DNC when the delegates and candidates were here. On October 15th, I was part of an event called Hugs Across America (The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection was one of 20 cities nationwide that participated.) where we reached beyond the political divide in the shadow of City Hall and next to the iconic Love Sculpture. Over the weekend, I was in Washington, DC at an event called Catharsis on the Mall, which was planned several months ago, but as timing would have it, was a perfect antedote to the pain and confusion some are feeling post-election, regardless of which side of the fence folks found themselves. A friend and I shared the love with countless people across from the Washington Monument, which I have come to think of as an arrow pointing heavenward. When fear and hatred threaten to pull me under, I do my best to look up, stand up and speak up.
99% of the people at this event hugged us gleefully and fully. As my friend Beth pointed out, they seemed to melt into it, not rushing to move on. One man told us he was all hugged out and we respected that. The energy radiated out magically. Once we were out on the streets, the percentage of yesses went down AND there were still people eager to share hugs. I was moved by the multi-cultural blend of folks who we passed and hugged. Hugs are an international language.
Take that, racism! One in the win column for unity. I looked into the faces of people whose cultural origin place them in the categories of those threatened by both rhetoric and physical violence and felt grateful that I could, at least for that instant, be a safe haven. Many people (including a police officer who hugged us), commented how much we all needed to come together and that hugs were one way to bridge the gap. I also know that when people feel loved, they are more likely to act in loving ways.
Although I choose not to focus on negativity and divisiveness, I know that it exists. I am not naive, although there are times when I wish I didn’t know some of what I observe about human nature and interactions. A week after the elections here in the United States, the emotional fall out continues. Contention and chaos ensue cross country. Fear is rising and falling, like waves on rough seas and storm strewn beaches that are worn away by the water. Having survived Hurricane Andrew in Homestead, Florida in 1992, it seems an apt metaphor for the current climate in our country. Although I am distraught by the violence that has been occurring, both at protests and on a small scale (although no less destructive) basis by individuals who terrorize, I am also heartened by many who are seeing this current state of affairs as a clarion call to wake up and take responsibility for healing the wounds. In Judaism, there is a concept called Tikkun Olam, translated as ‘repair of the world’. Perhaps we have been asleep for far too long, living lives on auto pilot, ignoring the needs of those who feel disenfranchised and frightened.
Since the election, my senses have become heightened and I have become more aware of ways in which I can do my part. When considering all that needs to be done, it can feel overwhelming. When done in concert with others, the tasks feel more manageable and pleasureable.
I am taking it to the streets again on November 18th for a hug-athon called Hugging America From the Heart of Bucks County as yet another healing balm to comfort and soothe the wounds.
My repsonse to Kid President’s statement: And huggers who hug haters may find them morphing into huggers who hate no more. That’s the kind of world in which I choose to live.