By Colin Griffiths
The practice of shaking hands extends back at least to the 5th century BC in Greece. It indicated the greeting was made with peaceful intentions, showing the extended open palm carried no weapon, and the shake revealed none were hidden up the sleeve! During the Vietnam War among Black American soldiers the DAP handshake communicated solidarity.
“You’re not above me; I’m not above you; we’re side by side together”. Despite these beautiful gestures of comradery, during the flu season or when the risk of spreading infectious diseases like coronavirus is high, the most neighbourly thing to do is keep a safe distance. Here are some suggestions for non-contact greetings: wave, nod, bow, salute, peace fingers, mime a fist bump or if you’re a sci-fi nerd like me, adopt the Vulcan live long and prosper sign, or the Wakanda greeting that crosses fists and arms over one’s heart. Don’t stop expressing gladness when you meet someone or let fear keep you for showing love and respect to all people.
There are over 50 verses in the New Testament encouraging us to engage “one another” with peace, honour, service and acceptance. Jesus boldly engaged the ‘untouchables” and ‘unclean’ of His day, “He welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cure those who needed healing” (Luke 9:11). We can still follow His example by embracing those who feel isolated and rejected, with our posture of welcome, generous spirit and listening ears – no holy kiss required!
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