In daily life

Cultures kiss on the cheek.

Cultures shake hands.

Cultures hug.


Though, there is one form of address

That is perfectly acceptable in all cultures.

A hand shake, and firm grasp on the shoulder.

Nothing is quite so loving as this gesture

Found throughout human civilization;

Westerners can interact with completely isolated tribes

With this gesture, and it is still understood.

Most likely because the shoulder and hand

Are the least vulnerable parts of the body.

A hand can fight

And a shoulder is like an armor plate.


A man who knows too much fighting might disagree

But I would recommend him to find any place

On the human body that is less vulnerable

Than the shoulder or hand.

It is why our war hand extends in hand shakes

And our hands touch shoulders.

Of course, in violent cultures

Anything you extend to your neighbor is vulnerable

To attack.

Perhaps we should consider this

A warning, how shoulders are vulnerable

Only in a culture where we all feel vulnerable.


So, perhaps a culture that doesn’t even allow

Shoulders to be touched

Or a culture where shoulders cannot be touched

Is a culture that one can suspect ill or wrongdoing.


Gestures such as cupping a hand over another’s

Shaking hands, or shoulder touching

Are good, because it builds trust in a community.

Those who say, “Don’t touch me,”

Do not trust you.

Rather, they hate you

Because they themselves feel vulnerable to attack.


With that said, shoulder grasping and hand shakes

Are perfectly reasonable touching spots

In civilized society.

There is nothing more without sex than a shoulder

Being touched by a hand.

Nothing less offensive, for the gesture

Cannot be construed intimate

As, like I said, the shoulder is our least vulnerable place.


And frankly, America is a place where

It is inappropriate to touch shoulders.

It might be why I do not like it.

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