In May of 1986, the “Hands Across America” event took place. My sister picked up my six-year-old son (I stayed home with my infant daughter) and drove with him to approximately sixty miles east of Albuquerque to join hands with strangers who had also chosen to participate in the event. How great was that? Complete strangers came together to hold hands in a sign of unity and to raise funds to fight hunger and homelessness here at home and famine in Africa. That was nice. I am a huge fan of nice. I mumble in my sleep, “can’t we all just get along.” For fifteen minutes almost thirty-five years ago we did.
Darius Rucker and Mark Bryan met around that time and went on to form “Hootie and the Blowfish.” Their song “Hold My Hand” (written by Jess Glynne) is one of my favorite hand-holding songs. Holding hands is such a lovely act of affection, comfort and support. We hold our children’s hands to keep them safe. We hold the hands of friends when they’re frightened and quite literally “need a hand.” Holding another’s hand is often the first act of shared affection.
Do you remember The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” released in 1964? What a big jump from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in 1964 to “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” in 1968. When you’re young, your attitude towards affection is in hyperdrive. When I was a teen in the 1970s, we went from wanting to hold each other’s hand to wanting to do it in the road pretty quickly. Enough of that potentially progeny- mortifying reminiscing. Let’s get back to hand holding.
Music is full of hand-holding encouragement. If it’s encouraged in song, I’m usually all for it (with the exception of the rap music of the nineties that frequently encouraged “killin’ yo mama”). Michael Jackson and Akon’s performance of – “Hold My Hand” is another favorite. “Things will go better if you just hold my hand” is some of the great advice included in this song, written by Aliaune Thiam, Giorgio Tuinfort, and Claude Kelley. The video was released following Michael Jackson’s death. It is lovely.
Last week we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Like MLK, “I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world… [and] to return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.” Thirty-five years ago, people came together to form a chain of charity, good will and love. I’ve got an idea; when this whole COVID thing is over, let’s hold each other’s hands. Let’s turn back the clock thirty-five years and be friends. Life is good, and it’s even better when you’re holding someone’s hand.