Jul 2, 2012

Free Hugs in Beirut


There were 12 of us, gathered indifferently, totally randomly. We didn't know each other before, we were clueless of who will we meet, what we'll be doing, and what would the reactions be like. 12 distinct bodies we were, but it appeared to me later that we were much less than 12, we were one. Each and everyone of them was the joy the streets witnessed that afternoon, sticking their cardboards on restaurants windows, or simply popping up in front of the passengers, thus spreading happiness, if not with a hug, then by a simple gesture. They were heroes, explaining our goal for anyone who wondered, breaking the ice to anyone who had his doubts and fears, bringing joy to silent alleys and dull restaurants. Smile never left their faces even though the whole walk was seriously tiring under that afternoon's burning sun. Too many people spotted us, too many souls rejoiced for once, too many smiles were born that day, too many lives will be changed afterwards. I recall some of the participants telling people jokes in order to befriend them, making up some story only to grab their candid laughter. Those participants were smart enough to have the power to bring Hamra back to life on a dull Sunday afternoon.

There were two Graphic Design pupils, which as usual appeared in their character, one who finished his studies and now working, the other still drenched in the distressful college corridors. The girl with the greatest smile is the one that actually came to our meeting point before us organizers were, even though her place is pretty far from the park, and she did great out there. Four friends came in together as the prettiest group ever, being kind enough to enter people's hearts yet deterministic enough to constantly put ahead in their minds what our main goal was. Another friend came in from afar, he apparently showed a sort of discomfort in his own skin towards what we were doing, yet his true heart truly lead him to eventually touch his inner child's innocence. The two persons missing from the picture above were a British friend who came in for the thrill of it, and to get to know in close-up the real Lebanese people he kept hearing about, and a Photographer who was urged to leave long before our flashmob reached its climax. And last but not least, the two organizers who were kicking out every second of silence and trying their best to keep things appealing and easy as much as possible for everyone out there, dodging security's occasional notes and all along keeping an eye on every participant.

 As any other Lebanese civilian knows, telling the Lebanese to come at 3:30 sharp, is another way to tell him I'll be waiting for you for another hour past the 3:30, which is truly stressful, yet disgusting. Many thanks go to, first of all, some of the internal forces and/or intelligence who kept watching us from afar - by our request of course - to maintain the attendee's security. Personally I don't think I exaggerated when I confirmed the approximate number of participants with 15 to 60 max, while watching the replies from Facebook people, the excitement of Twitter people, the confirmation of MANY friends, and the effort put into this activity over two months to the point I felt like "WOW, we'll be handling a flashmob of over 50 persons at least. Well, we were 12, the mighty 12.

As any other issue in life, everything has its own first time. This was my first time organizing an event, my first time being responsible for a group of people in Beirut streets, a place i'm still not so familiar with. My first time of dealing with the Lebanese internal forces and intelligence members. My first time hugging this huge number of people. My first time in actually touching the difference a simple act can make on the faces of human beings. My first time realising I can, with no effort whatsoever, make a couple, who have long forgotten what a hug does, actually hug each other by only catching the fever, and eventually enjoying it with a smile. My first time noticing what monsters have we become in the eyes of children, with all the shiny metal inside our mouths, with all the straps and black sacs we wrap ourselves with, with the strange piece of leather that's on our waist, that they even get scared of approaching a person asking only for a


hug. My first time getting in touch with an inner power, that kept hiding for long enough. My first time to meet face to face with the inner child of each and everyone I met today. My first time actually sensing the atmosphere of a working group. My first time appearing on national tv with a sign in my hand waving it before the lens. My first time meeting two TV celebrities in one day. My first time knowing that I hugged once before, and no hug can be the same....

Sorry to bother you with all the firsts and everything, but for the others that didn't bother, you are welcome.


The day before, I was a guest at my "We Love Tripoli" community's "Cine Club", in my hometown Tripoli, where I was the introducer of the "Patch Adams" movie in front of more than 10 people. Something moved me a lot ever since I watched that story a few years ago. Moved by some recent events, I decided it's time for some action. The point is, and to stick to our Hugs topic, both the hugs and the movie actually relate, strongly. It's time for the people around me to shed the barriers they have all built with the others, even with the ones they live with, oh, sorry, I meant "especially" with those they live with. So much emotional constipation has turned us into zombies without knowing it. Zombies spending half a life trying to make money while losing their health and family, the other half speding their money on getting (or trying to get) back the health they had before. Zombies yelling at thy children ordering them what and what not to do/say even though they are the true form of God they came with and surely must have a higher sense of intelligence than those, zombies. Zombies dying for countries that originally abonded them, for causes that are never worth getting a man killed for, for people that didn't even ask for people to die for. Zombies killing other zombies because another higher-level zombie's intersts need that, even if that higher zombie is our inner ego.

When will we learn that we are the true face of God on this earth? As I type on my keyboard thirty-five minutes past 10 PM, I suddenly remember all the souls out there, alone in their spaces, shedding tears, only looking for a stranger to give a hug away...

1 comment:

  1. One huge a day keeps drug away.by hugging we are expressing by body language how everyone one of us has love and in most if the time we don't show it to others for many reasons. I have also heard that hugging could be used as a therapy for stress and depression . Many people talk about the inner energy and the energy that is surrounding our body; by hugging you can really touch that energy and feel it by exchanging it will whom you hug so instead of saying shit to people tell them I love u I forgive u I accepte u what ever ur religion is whatever ur color you r human you r my brother I should express it to .I would hug you.

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