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Have you had your hug today?

"Let’s halt the political correctness police at the Quebec border"

It was just one of life’s ugly moments. Downstairs from our offices at the time was a small food court. Behind the counter of one of the vendors was a lovely, gregarious gal with a still fairly healthy Newfoundland accent—and accordingly, she called just about every customer “my love”.

One of our staff just happened to be present when a female customer, clearly unfamiliar with Newfoundland familiarity, took loud offence. The precise wording was sexual in nature and horribly abusive and best not quoted here, but the poor darlin’ behind the counter was mortified.

More recently, as the sour-faced political correctness police have grown increasingly farcical, we have taken to suggesting they could all benefit from a year of enlightenment (or maybe just lighten-up) retraining in Newfoundland where men and women can still tease each other good naturedly, share an off-colour joke, or offer a simple physical gesture without fear of giving offence or being “shamed” on social media.

We remember fondly a column many, many moons ago by Canada’s foremost humour writer, Allan Fotheringham (whose disdain for social pretentiousness was unrelenting), when he wrote appreciatively of a trip to the East Coast where he found to his delight that women would give him a big smacker on the lips rather than the feigned phony “air kisses” on offer in Toronto. “Dr. Foth” killed them kindly with humour, but killed them just the same.

But here’s the best part: those places where people have retained a sense of humour and remain free to display overt warmth toward each other are also those places which report the highest levels of overall happiness. It’s no secret that Newfoundland and Labrador ranks right up there. According to a survey released recently by Statistics Canada, all four Atlantic provinces have stress levels below the national average…

And those who live on an island reported being the happiest—PEI ranked second behind Newfoundland.

It makes perfect sense that hollow and humourless uptight people whose conviviality has been forfeited to some neurotic notion of how we should interact with each other will be unhappy in their personal lives. We’re speaking here of the morons who insist that it’s inappropriate for little tots in daycare to hug or kiss or hold hands, or for professional colleagues to touch each other on the shoulder without prior permission. (“Me Too” is a whole different conversation.)

The big question, of course, is—will we retain our collective social warmth as we go forward in a much smaller world?

~ Linda & Jim Gourlay
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