Saturday, February 23, 2008

Free Hugs Campaign

Youtube video of Free Hugs Campaign

I am probably the last person to hear of Juan Mann's video and campaign. But in case you haven't either, treat yourself to a virtual hug and a real appreciation for something so beautiful in its simplicity.

I wept when I read how his story started.
I'd been living in London when my world turned upside down and I'd had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.


Bobbie said...

I somehow saw this man on TV and was amazed at how people shunned him at first, and then someone took a chance and then another. It was wonderful. You know me, I don't watch TV and so it must have been on when I was talking to dh about something.

John said...

I tried to do this at an all girls college and got arrested. One should attempt to do this campaign in a thong speedo.

Andi said...

Thank you. I needed a hug today.

Rima said...

I liked that video too (what a wonder YouTube is really). I hadn't known about the background of it, I thought it was more like a performance street art kind of thing, rather than a social experiment. But I guess even under the film-maker's desire to create "an event", there is a genuine desire and longing. Hmmm... I think I liked it better when alienation and anomie were just concepts I learned about in Sociology 101.

Audrey said...

Mom, I'll be home in three weeks and you can have all of the hugs you want. Maybe even a cuddly nap or two. ;)

Katlynn's Momma said...

Wow, never heard of this (since I don't have tv) but it was truly touching. I agree with Rima, what a wonder YouTube is! Thanks for sharing that.

Bev said...

What a lovely idea! However, I couldn't personally countenance such a thing because I am English lol

John, the thong speedo only works if you are David Beckham.

Frances said...

Sweet story - I can see why people might back off though - even if they needed a hug... inhibitions and fear rule.
Bev - mixed messages - I am guessing that English as you are you might manage a Free Hug if it was with David Beckham in a Speedo thong? Or am I getting confused!

dianeclancy said...

Hi Debi,

This is a wonderful story - I had never heard it~

~ Diane Clancy