We Used to Call, Write or Ask; Now We Reach Out

Reach out and touch somebody’s hand
Make this world a better place, if you can
– Diana Ross

Reach out come on girl reach on out for me
Reach out reach out for me
– Four Tops

Reach out and touch me
– Hilary Duff

ReachOnce upon a time people called, approached, telephoned, wrote, faced, asked, interfaced, or just plain spoke to each other. Now they ‘reach out’ to one another. The concept of people reaching out isn’t new as the song lyrics above show, but using the phrase has become common to refer to the initiation of any sort of human contact.

From president Obama asking those on either side of the congressional aisle to reach out to each other over any number of issues, to journalists claiming to have reached out to so-and-so for a statement. There’s a whole lot of reaching out going on these days. Sales reps no longer busy themselves making the dreaded cold calls, now they reach out to potential customers. The homeless have been reaching out for years, but sadly in their case they are actually reaching out for a few bucks in their hand.

Always ahead of his time, even Jesus was doing it: “So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!”

Always ahead of his time, even Jesus was doing it:  “So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!”(Romans 15:7-17). I can’t imagine – So give them a call and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus texted them; now you do it!

But perhaps the most poignant use of the phrase ‘reaching out’ was as the title of photographer Larry Burrows’ 1966 shot of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie actually reaching out to a wounded comrade in Vietnam. The photo appeared in LIFE magazine and has become a classic. Perhaps it’s this image that colors my opinion of the phrase, but I can’t help but feel there is something desperate about ‘reaching out’ as opposed to getting in touch with. In desperation a person reaches out of a burning building for help,  but opposing sides in a political debate should just stick to trying to make contact.


MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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