Sunday, September 26, 2004

In Defense of My People 

My recent forebears are Scottish, English and German. In all of these cultures, I am sure, mothers cradle and nurse their newborns tenderly. As their little ones become a bit more independent, these same mothers must surely reach out and put their hands on their ailing offspring’s foreheads to see if they are running a fever. They probably also put their arms around them when they are dosing off during sermons, if only to keep them from falling off the pew and embarrassing the family. But as children mature in these societies, they are accorded more and more space. This means less and less touching. At puberty, when the adolescent is uncomfortable with touch, it ends.

Some decry these cultures as cold and unfeeling. I don’t agree. To me this is evidence of profound respect. It says, “You are your own person - not my personal teddy.”


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