By Bobby Fisher, P ’16 –
Some people like them because they are a way to make a personal statement. But sometimes, that can be tricky. I suppose that we should never be afraid to fly the flags of our true colors.
So, a few years ago, I put my first ever bumper sticker on my car, and today, it’s time I explain why.
As some of you know, the bumper sticker is two simple words: Namaste Y’all.
It started with a gift. A few years ago, my parents graciously gave us their 2007 Toyota Prius because we needed a car and they pitied us for how many miles we were driving to and from soccer practices alone. We were overwhelmed by their generosity and said, “no way,” but they insisted that this was something they could do to show their love and support.
My parents have given their best to try and honor their children. I see now why honoring others has become important in my life, because it is a gift that my parents have given freely and constantly. I believe it is up to us to extend that honoring even wider: Honor one another.
My roots of gratitude grow from southern ground; I was raised in the best and worst of southern culture in this country. I witnessed equal parts graciousness and warmth alongside bigotry, blind ignorance, and unbending hatred. One of the seemingly small, insignificant, but beautiful artifacts that I’ve salvaged from my southern youth and continue to keep and use is the word Y’all.
It is an inclusive word, and that’s partly why I like it so much. Maybe it’s that I live in a house full of women, but ‘You guys’ has never felt right, and I think ‘you all’ is way too stiff and impersonal. Y’all brings people together – all people – in a friendly sort of way so much that its bigger than southern slang, I think; I believe it is a universal term– it cuts across all language and all people.
From my sheltered southern cocoon, it wasn’t until early adulthood and very late in my own education that I took the opportunity to look beyond and learn about other people – specifically, eastern religion, philosophy, and culture. And there I became enthralled by the concept of the old Sanskrit word, Namaste, which is foundational in eastern religious belief and practice.
It’s funny how we often stumble unknowingly into the things that end up mattering most and holding deep meaning for us.
My wife will tell you, I saw this bumper sticker on an old beat-up Volkswagon van in Asheville NC a few years ago, and I immediately knew that I needed one. Well, I wanted one, but now I believe that I needed it, too.
People often kid me about my bumper sticker, and even more often, people will tell me that they like it, or that they want one.
My own children have given into it – first not knowing what it meant, then thinking that it seemed more than a little strange, and now my 8-year old says it randomly, and I smile every time she chooses to say it!
Namaste Y’all is a simple silly bumper sticker. It also happens to encapsulate my greatest hope and my most profound conviction about the human experience…
That in the great mystery of our lives, there is this divine spark within each one of us, and when we honor that spark in each other, we may see and know life’s rich beauty.
I watch when senior chapel speakers line up outside on the terrace and faculty and students take their time to move through the line for a hug or a handshake and a kind, genuine word of gratitude. It’s seldom, if ever, Namaste or a bow, but the honoring still takes place.
I hold this great hope that it happens all around us, and I want to encourage y’all to make it as common as possible until it’s simply and naturally what we do.
Namaste y’all is….
A smile and hello on the pathway;
A thank you in the dining hall line to those who have prepared your food;
A held door and a nod of recognition;
The instant help that comes spontaneously when someone drops a tray at sit-down;
The giving of the Heart-of-the-Griffin ribbon, or Griffy;
Reaching out in some small quiet way to a classmate, or teammate, or roommate, or someone in your advisee group.
What does it look like to honor another person? Think about the times when you have felt honored — times when someone has seen you and somehow recognized the innate goodness in you, even when others don’t seem to see the divine spark as easily.
Namaste Y’all is more than just a bumper sticker, it becomes a way of being in every moment (or, as many moments as possible). It is multitude of ways of extending graciousness and acceptance, kindness toward and consideration for others. It is more than southern slang and eastern principle.
In the same way, I invite us to see if we can capture the spirit of Namaste in photographs during this next week. It happens to be spirit week, so the timing is right.
Without manufacturing it or creating a contrived scene, our challenge is to look for the moments when one person honors another on this campus and preserve the scene. It is possible that looking for the honoring will also be more inspiration to participate in your own attempts at honoring others.
What will it look like through your eyes?
See our community photos on Instagram #pomfrethonor.