As the gainfully employed hustle to get from point a to point b they disregard an act of kindness, while those caught in limbo are surprised anyone would dare to be kind to them. I remember Ben Folds saying that if Jesus was reborn into the street of a metropolis he would be shunned and dismissed as a drugged-out hippie.
We are naturally cautious that trusting the wrong person could turn a spontaneous act into our ultimate demise.
Shoe On The Wrong Foot?
In the corporate world we want to split ourselves in half:
The Work Self
... and The Personal Self
The work self navigates what we have to do while the personal self creates what we want to do. The gap between the have to's and the want to's is closing.
Our lack of perception reveals that the work self needs to be guarded and neutral. Every Executive I have spoken to appreciates straight talk. The personal self believes that we can put our guard down and say what's really on our mind. Most post-work bar conversations are cries for validation mired in regret for lack of effort.
Who's really full of shit?
So we leave the office and walk down the street mistrusting of everyone... even a person who needs a hug.
I walked down the streets of San Francisco with the CEO of our company during the protest period know as the "Occupy" movement. An unshowered young man approached her and asked her for a hug. Admittedly, I would have punched him if he touched her. Not because I was mistrusting of him but because I was protective of her.
Our challenge in life is not just to protect those we love but to develop a sense of protection for the human race. Our elegance as people is threatened when we neglect to give people the benefit of the doubt.
You can't just hug everyone! You have to develop a sense of trust and to know better when a hug is necessary.
We spend too much time practicing our acumen and far too little time developing our common sense.
Some times people under-perform and they need to be fired. Some times someone neglects your existence to such an extent that they need to be neglected.
... and some times people need a hug!
It's easy to do the safe thing and to live your life in fear. It is far more difficult to crawl out of your shell and take action where you see desperation.
You can fold hands and bow to royalty or you can choose to interact with people who probably haven't heard an honest word in a long time.
Don't Forget to Remember!