Screaming in the Streets.
Sometimes - well most times if you’re me - you don’t know what you need until it’s gone. So let’s talk about human touch. We need this. If we’re single, married, or something in between, there’s something inhumane about being quarantined.
John McCain was once asked about his worst experience as a POW, and he answered without hesitation: “Solitary Confinement.” More than the water-boarding or humiliation - in those situations, at least, you’re worth being tortured - in solitary confinement, you are definitionless, because we humans find our definition in community. There’s no such thing as a mere self.
Touch is part of this. I ache for our young single guys, especially, whose daily experience is not being touched in fear of having their sexuality questioned. We need to be not only a loving but an affectionate community, a kind that doesn’t give a bemused expression to Paul’s command to “Greet one another with a holy kiss,” or John resting his head on Jesus’ lap or the intimate washing of one another’s feet.
“Well,” we say, “Of course we must practice things differently now, in our culture.” But what if our own sexual deviance and depressive/anxious tendencies are the exact sum acquired from the equation of our isolation? What if we, like the man in David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”, are just howling at the streets, screaming at passersby: “Somebody please touch me!”
What if touch is like food or water, a human need that can’t be worked around, so that predatory or desperate sexuality is filling the necessary void?
What if we didn’t only need love, but affection?