Two ‘touching’ scenes comes to my mind: One is a national leader going round the world intent on touching everyone he meets internationally by hugging them, and another, again a national leader but in the opposition going round the country, first in a walk across the nation and otherwise just visiting the poor, the broken and the grieving, reaching out and touching them, with an embrace and a hug.
There is a story I oft repeat: A poor man who had gone to the market to buy provisions for his home, and seeds to plant in his small field, was returning home with the produce on his small cart drawn by himself, when inadvertently he slipped on the wet road, and his cart skidded into the sucking sand of a river. He tried all he could but the cart was firmly stuck and was slowly being sucked in.
A rich man passing by in his carriage, seeing the plight of the poor fellow, ordered his horsemen to help. They pushed and shoved but couldn’t move the sinking cart. The rich man then told them to untie his horses and tie them to the cart, but even that did not help pull the poor man’s cart out.
Then the rich man climbed down, put his own strength along with his horsemen and the horses to the cartwheels and suddenly the poor man’s cart rolled out of the slush and onto firmer ground.
A few years later, the tale goes, the rich man died and stood outside the gates of heaven, “What good deeds have you to show?” asked the angel sentry at the gates of heaven.
“Well,” I built a school, gave a donation to an NGO!” said the rich man.
“Not enough!” said the angel.
“I helped employ thousands through my businesses!”
“Not enough!” said the angel, and the rich man pulled out his hanky worriedly, to wipe his brow, and a piece of dirt fell off from the handkerchief.
“What’s that?” asked the angel.
“Oh, that’s a piece of dirt, when I pushed a cart out of the marsh!” said the rich man as he attempted to wipe it off the angel’s table.
“Open the gates and let him in,” shouted the angel, “That piece of dirt, from that action is all we need to tell us that you are a good man!”
And that’s the kind of reaching out and touching that is important; not the hugging of world leaders, but the stretching out of our hands to touch the poor, the broken, the grieving and the needy, to tell them they are not alone in their struggle, and we are there to help.
Well, that’s what the angels would like to see, but how long will it take before our voters also realise the right touch?
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at [email protected]