On that day, we were at a local store picking out a birthday gift when my daughter ran up to someone and gave her a hug. Munchkin is pretty small, so she basically hugged this woman's legs and while I rushed to tell Munchkin that it's not appropriate to ambush complete strangers, the woman brushed it off and, I noticed, looked pleased. She patted Munchkin's back and smiled and I realized that this kind woman, maybe a decade or two older than me, needed a hug. I don't know if she was lonely or having a bad day or perhaps hadn't had chubby arms wrap so tightly around her legs in a long time, but I saw that there was a special sparkle in her eyes as she looked at Munchkin.
In the last few days, as news broke that a young vocalist was shot and killed and, the next day, that a massacre inside a LGBT club left more than 100 people dead or injured, I've realized that I don't have words to express my sadness nor express the fear of what will happen next. I'm scared of the hate in this country which lately seems to be increasingly encouraged and divisive.
Instead, I've thought a lot about Munchkin's actions. As my daughter has demonstrated, a lot of people could use a hug, especially now. The LGBT community who has suffered a huge loss, the Muslim community who is constantly blamed and maligned, and the entire country as we struggle to rectify the issues surrounding gun control.
As playwright Lin Manuel Miranda said the day of the attack, love is love is love. We have love to give, so we should give it in the form of compassion. Give it not just to your friends and family, but to your neighbor, your fellow students or fellow parents. Let them know they're okay, that they are loved.
I saw this video this morning that really crystallized the acceptance people crave. In it, Korean mothers at a Gay Pride event are offering hugs to children--not their children, but anyone's children--who need them. The tears that fall on both the children's (grown men and women) and the mothers' faces are evidence of people struggling for acceptance. They don't have it, but they need. We all need it. After all, we are all someone's child.
Despite my better judgement, Munchkin was right. Sometimes we do need to ambush a stranger with love. We will all be better off for it.