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INSIDE COLUMN: Hug Week: Initiating love

Lianna Brauweiler | Friday, November 3, 2006

What is one thing every human being loves? Why, hugs, of course.

But as we rush around campus each day, the student body that makes up the “Notre Dame Family” seems detached and oblivious.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could just smile at one another a little more? Where’s the love? Don’t families hug?

As a matter of fact, they do.

So here’s the deal: next week will be Hug Someone New Week. Nov. 5 through the 11, you are going to hug someone you wouldn’t normally hug (but only if he or she is receptive to this impromptu embrace; if not, this might accidentally turn into Black Eye Week, which we are not advocating).

Why “Hug Someone New Week,” you ask? Because sometimes hugging the same old people over and over again can get to be grating. Also, because according to www.free-hugs.com, research shows that three hugs a day will make you a better person. Like veggies for the soul.

This pearl of wisdom is one Aussie “Juan Mann” has already come to terms with and embraced. (Ha!) Mann is the current and most prolific spokesman for the Free Hugs Campaign, which started in 2004 with Mann holding up a sign that read “Free Hugs” at his local mall, just to “see people smile” and “do a nice thing.” He’s not doing it to pick up girls, for fame, money or recognition – just to make contact with people and let them know they’re loved.

His random act of kindness made an impact worldwide when on Sept. 22, 2006, Shimon Moore, a friend of Mann and leader of the band Sick Puppies, posted a video chronicling Mann’s story on YouTube. This clip was an instant hit all over the world and to date has gotten almost five million hits on the Web site, inspiring similar movements worldwide.

If one man carrying a sign around a mall can reach out and inspire more than five million people to stop and spread a little love to everyone around, how much of an impact can each one of us make with a similar random act of kindness?

There’s no need to carry a “Free Hugs” sign around campus. Just reach out to someone new and random while you’re racing across the quad. Take an extra 10 seconds to give a person or two a hug – embrace your family.

That’s what they’re there for.