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I did it. 

No, I’m not kidding.

Why?

I saw this phenomenon online about a year ago, read it on newspaper the next day. Read about their convictions… and since then, I thought to myself that if I ever saw them, I should (1)go give them a hug to encourage them to continue with what they are doing, and (2) pick up a card and join them. Naturally, these were just “I should’ve” thoughts.

Yesterday, I saw them. I cowered. Walked past. Both of them. Thankfully, courage prevailed and I turned back. Spoke to them, exchanged numbers. Today, I find myself standing at the orchard underpass holding these huge signs. Yeap, that’s the whole story.

Still, that doesn’t exactly answer the “why” does it?

Basically… I genuinely admire these people. For their courage, their commitment to their conviction. I don’t think I could just stand there and get comfortable while people are out there trying to make the world a better place. Something inside me just doesn’t let that seat easy with me, you get what I mean?

Here’s what Juan Mann (the guy who started it) have to say about it:

I’d been living in London when my world turned upside down and I’d had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words “Free Hugs” on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven’t compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.

Go read more about ’em here.

Then again, no. I’m not a free hugging activist. I believe it is a good campaign to change the world, and I would join it whenever I can. Yet I believe what the world essentially needs is not to be changed, but to be saved. That’s why I believe that the gospel is the only way, and that’s why I dedicated my life to further its cause. Hugs can make your day better, but it doesn’t gives it meaning. Jesus does.

Still, today was an fruitful day. I learnt a couple of interesting things:

– You can’t do something you don’t believe in for long, it is just a matter of time before you quit.
– What you do becomes what you stand for. Even if people criticize you. (I’ve got a middle finger today.)
– Humans are capable of misunderstanding goodness; do good anyway.
– Some people actually don’t smile back!
– Smiles and hugs are free, it is the courage that is costly.
– There is a language that transcends all races: Love
– I was not paid to smile, yet I do. In Tangs, they are paid yet they still do not smile.
– Approach with arms wide open.
– Some people are just waiting for you to ask.
– Committed people draws committed people. 

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