Mon | Oct 25, 2021

Hello Mi Neighbour | Nothing like the human touch

Published:Wednesday | March 18, 2020 | 12:27 AM

Hello mi neighbour! From a distance, my church sister who was normally friendly and jovial looked quite sad and distant. While walking over to greet her, she started complaining, “Nobody wants to shake my hand, as if I have some virus that they would catch … Because of this foolish corona something we caan greet one another! Pchaw! This is foolishness!”

She then walked away without giving me an opportunity to greet her with the usual handshake and a hug.

In some strange and unnatural way, unsure of themselves that morning, church brothers and sisters avoided one another. Not sure how to greet one another, we all appeared like ‘fish out of water’.

The bold and fearless, however, hugged and shook hands as usual, claiming that they are not afraid of death because they know where they are going when they die, and they can’t wait to leave this “wicked world with all its ills, misery, pain and suffering!”

Yes, that did break the ice and put a nice spin on the after-worship concern of the day.

So the new development produced all kinds of comments: “Not being able to touch one another physically is a worse virus than the coronavirus itself”; “If we caan touch one another, may as cheap we all die”; “There is nothing like the human touch”. Then this one takes the breath away: “Mi feel like me a stifle”. And on and on it went. So everyone is now praying that this thing will go away because we cannot live without the human touch. Help us, dear Lord.

See why we all seem to be in big trouble with this virus? We are emotional beings who enter this world equipped to send and receive messages through the common touch. Researchers say that that touch plays a critical role in parent-child relationships from the start: “It’s an essential channel of communication with caregivers for a child,” says a San Diego State University School of Communication professor.


A mother’s touch enhances attachment between mother and child; it signifies security while generating comfort – depending on the type of touch, of course. Some researchers have linked touch, in the form of a massage, to benefits like better sleep, reduced irritability, and increased sociability among infants. The touch can also improve growth of babies born prematurely.

Distinct emotions like anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness, etc are conveyed with accuracy through a simple language called touch. According to some, the touch may be more versatile than voice, facial expression, and other modalities for expressing emotions.

Of course, there are contextual considerations. Different cultures and individuals may have varying tolerance levels for touch. Opposite-sex touches have different implications. Then there’s the quality of touch, the duration, the intensity, and circumstances.

Touching can really be a very complex and touchy matter. A stroke on the shoulder or a prolonged handshake can be easily misinterpreted.

Oops! Space has run out on me, but I hope you are getting my drift. Suffice it to say, as you touch someone today:

• Touch appropriately.

• Touch wisely.

• Touch with kindness.

• Touch from a heart of love.

• Touch to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

• Touch emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially, etc, where it enables rather than disables.


1. Jamaica Red Cross, for donations.

2. Everybody’s Pharmacy, for donation.

3. Karlene, St Andrew, for donation.

4. Angela, St Andrew for bed linen and other goodies.


1. Leroy, unemployed, badly needs $3,600 for a critical blood test.

2. Junior, St Mary, in need of bed linen and curtains.

3. Grandmother asking for a barber chair for unemployed grandson.

4. Sister Carmen, St Catherine, asking for a stove and radio, size-12 clothing for church.

To help, please call Silton Townsend @ 334-8165, 884-3866, or deposit to NCB acct # 351 044 276. Alternatively, send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR C/o 53 Half-Way Tree Road, Kingston 10. Paypal/credit card. Email: Contact. Email: Visit Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.