As I studied on the third floor of RBD, a group of four guys took a table five down from mine.
We faced the lawn between RBD and West Thach, where a group was meeting to practice something like tai chi.
While the tai chi group stretched, the guys immediately took notice, speculating whether they would fight or do parkour.
Fun jokes, sure. But the guys, who seemed unaware I or anyone else sat nearby, erupted when the tai chi group began bending their knees and shaping the air in unison.
“Oh my god,” said one, laughing. “What are they doing?”
“Dude, dude,” said another. “Film that.” “They look ridiculous. Look at everyone walking by staring at them like they’re idiots.”
The only onlookers I saw seemed more curious than anything. Excitement, laughter, amusement. “Dude, will you film me if I run out there and do it with them?”
Their camera was broken, but they carried on. Show some respect, I wanted to tell them. I wanted to tell them to act like college students, like adults.
I wanted to ask them how they would feel if while praying or exercising arduously, someone began mocking them, holding back laughter while caricaturing their motions.
Then they would sense the seriousness, the meaning, that tai chi appears to hold for those practicing it on the lawn below.
But what if these guys don’t treat their forms of prayer or exercise or any ritual as serious, as genuinely meaningful? What if they have no respect to give?
One guy joked that another’s comment was racist. Regardless of whether the comment was racist, I wanted to tell them, it lacked the respect that allows others to be human to us. It lacked the respect that makes us ourselves human.
I wanted to tell them.
Carson Williford is a senior in English Literature.