The beauty of belonging

“Psychologists say we can’t be mentally healthy if we don’t have a sense of belonging and being accepted by others.”

In the late 1980s and ’90s, when I was editor of this fine publication, I occasionally received testimonials from B.A.S.S. members about acts of kindness done for them by fellow members.

I wish I still had those letters, but I do recall one that was typical of most.

The letter writer’s truck was disabled on the shoulder of a busy highway a long way from home, and as minutes ticked away, he grew more and more frustrated that no one would stop to help.

Finally, another motorist drove by, but then quickly braked and pulled off the highway. As the stranded driver watched the pickup back toward him, he spotted the B.A.S.S. emblem on the left side of its rear window.

“Thank you for stopping,” said the first fellow.

“I couldn’t go off and leave a fellow B.A.S.S. member who needed help!” answered the second man.

The Good Samaritan not only helped the traveler get his truck towed to a repair shop, but he also stayed until he knew things were under control.

I’m not saying letters like that came to my office regularly, but they did so often enough to convince me they were not isolated acts of kindness.

With the advent of cellphones, there is less likely a need to be rescued by another motorist, but if I were in that situation, I would like to think that a fellow member would see my blue-and-gold decal and stop to help.

When friends and I reminisce about the good old days, the conversation sometimes turns to “pride in the patch,” and the shared sense of belonging to B.A.S.S. Some suggest that people aren’t as likely to place the decals on their vehicles. I hope that’s not the case, and I don’t know that I agree.

While driving in South Carolina last fall, I passed the distinctively wrapped truck of Elite Series angler John Crews. I waved as I went by, but he didn’t notice. When I later pointed out that I had passed him, he said, “I saw your truck go by but didn’t think anything of it. I probably passed 10 B.A.S.S. decals before I saw yours.”

I see the B.A.S.S. decal from time to time in my travels, too, and I always feel a kinship with the other driver.

Psychologists tell us that “belongingness” is a strong emotional need shared by different types of people and across all cultures. We want to feel a connection with others, whether it’s based on geography, social relationships or shared interests — such as bass fishing.

In fact, psycologists say we can’t be mentally healthy if we don’t have a sense of belonging and being accepted by others. (Who knew a B.A.S.S. membership could be so vital to your mental well-being?)

Of course you can’t make that connection with other BASSers if you don’t fly the colors.

Art Director Laurie Tisdale has updated the B.A.S.S. logo (see above). It’s the first makeover since we marked the end of the ESPN era by putting the periods back in BASS.

It’s important that an acronym mean something. Ours stands for the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, and it’s a fraternity of 510,000 men and women who love bass fishing.

I hope you’ll show that you belong by placing the B.A.S.S. decal on your car or truck. Wear the patch proudly.

And if I see you stranded along the roadside, I promise I’ll stop and help.