I Believe in Touch

In 2004, National Public Radio (NPR) began airing readings of brief essays entitled This I Believe written by youth and adults from all walks of life about the core values that guide their daily lives. It was based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow.

I looked forward to hearing each week’s selection, which felt like a breath of fresh air in a glass-is-half-empty world.  During Thanksgiving week of 2005, after hearing a particularly moving piece, I went to the website and searched for any essays about “touch.” There were none.

Here is the essay I submitted on November 24, 2005 . You can also view it at the This I Believe website along with the now dozens of other contributions on the topic of touch. About a year later, I was one of a number of Bay Area residents selected to participate in a conversation about the This I Believe organization on the KQED radio program Forum. A portion of my essay was read and discussed.

I believe in the power of touch.

I have experienced the power of touch to calm an infant, to comfort the dying, and to mend a relationship.

I believe in offering a hand or a hug to say hello or goodbye.

I believe in putting my arm around a good friend while we sit and talk on the sofa.

I believe in saying “Thank you,” when someone accidentally bumps up against me on a crowded sidewalk.

I believe that touch makes me whole.

I believe that the touch of another person connects me to my personal history, to their personal history, and to the history of all humanity.

I have seen touch in times of crisis bring relief to emergency workers, firefighters and police after a natural disaster and heal soldiers and civilians in time of war.

I have seen that a simple handshake between political opponents can spark years of hope between warring peoples and sometimes actually signal the end of years of conflict.

I believe that touch can reconnect the innate wisdom of my body to the rational calculations of my brain.

I have watched touch reawaken sensations in me that I thought were gone forever.

I am aware that as touch heals me, it also heals my relationships, heals the institutions of work, religion and politics that I participate in, and I believe that ultimately it helps to heal the world.

I believe that, if everyone got as much positive touch as they wanted for free, the need for wars, racism, drug abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, anti-depressants, and the need to blame others for the conditions of our lives would mostly disappear.

I believe that touch reminds me that human beings are supposed to feel good, not bad.

I believe that touch is the orphan sense in our world because of our fear of intimacy.

I believe that touch has the power to turn “you” and “me” into “us.”

I believe that unless we learn how to touch and be touched, we will never learn how to love ourselves and each other.

I believe in touch.

In touch,

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