Everyone’s Doing It

More than nine years ago, self-proclaimed germaphobe, Howie Mandel went public with his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and sent celebrity-watching societies into a fist bumping frenzy.

The fist bump dates back to the 1800s boxing arena. At the beginning of a boxing match, the two contenders would meet in the center of the ring and hit their gloved fists together as a form of greeting. This action slipped into the Cricket world in 1990 when two batsmen in Australia met at the plate and bumped fists at the start of the game and continued to do so throughout the game. Since then, the fist bump has made its way into other sports as well.

The Urban Dictionary defines it this way: fist bump

When 2 or more people, friends, make a fist and bump each other
with their knuckles as a way of saying hello, what’s up,
keep up the good work.

In 2009, the Dean of Medicine at the University of Calgary suggested the fist bump could help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, which seemed to be spread mostly by casual handshakes. Thus began the craze of fist bumps spreading into the general population of the world.

Violence seems to be more prevalent today than it was in the first centuries A.D., the dark ages, during the Salem witch trials and other barbaric times in the world’s history. Perhaps it isn’t more violent, it just seems that way due to the modern ways we indulge. It is no longer enough to simply engage in violent acts. We prefer to view it on television, at the movies and on the internet. We read it in books, magazines and newspapers.

With a society that is becoming more violent, it is, perhaps, appropriate for the greeting to be a greeting of violence by putting up your closed fist rather than an open hand. This is, in actuality, what is happening. Ceasing with handshakes does not stop the spread of germs. People do not realize that germs can survive on the knuckles as well as they can on the palm of the hand. In order to keep your body free of germs you may as well walk around in a plastic bubble.

The handshake dates back to 5th-century B.C. via ruins found by archeologists who found carvings depicting two persons shaking hands without weapons. For centuries, the handshake has been the greeting in polite societies. There are other greetings, a number of which do not involve the touching of hands at all.

In dealing with animals, if you approach them with a closed fist, you will likely get bitten, if not eaten. However, if you approach with an open hand and gently speak to the animal, you may be able to pet it and perhaps befriend it.

Now there’s a novel idea. Approach with openness in a non-aggressive manner.

As an adult survivor of child abuse, I had been punched many times. While I have dealt with this part of my PTSD, I still feel a twinge if someone raises a closed fist to me even in a manner of greeting. Raise your fist in greeting to someone who hasn’t dealt with the punches of childhood or those who have been beaten during ‘spousal’ abuse and you can either cause that person to have severe flashbacks, which can put them in the hospital or they may react to the fist and put you in the hospital.

Violence only begets violence.

During a time when we desperately need peace in the world, why would we want to incorporate a greeting that comes from a violent sport? No, everyone is NOT fist bumping. I prefer to greet those I consider my intimates and friends with an embrace. Others, I will greet with a handshake. If you feel you must refrain from germs passed during a handshake, keep your hand sanitizer handy or opt for a bowing of the head. Show yourself to be open and non-violent and spread warmth and caring along with a few germs.


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