If you don’t like me, my opinions, my perspective, my ideals, my policy views, my way of thought, my morals, my skin color, my hair color, my height, my education level, my hometown, or any other reason you could think to disagree… I ask that at this time you stand up and walk out…because that’s what everyone is doing these days, right?
You are in the third grade. Your new teacher has just finished explaining the classroom rules for the school year. You don’t like the rules so you leave class.
You are now in middle school. Your soccer coach has just finished explaining to you and your teammates a new play for the upcoming game but you don’t agree with it. It won’t win you the game. You pick up your bag and leave in the middle of practice.
You are now a new employee at a restaurant waiting tables. Your customer claims you messed up his order but you know it was not your fault – he forgot to ask for no pickles. You are now upset, but instead of correcting the error, you walk out on your shift.
Now you have graduated college and started a new job. You are an up and coming businessman/woman. Hot shot on the rise. You are a few months in. You are sitting in on a meeting about a new project you are assisting on. The CEO for your company does not agree with the direction or your suggestions. He/she thinks you are misguided and uninformed. He doesn’t communicate this to you or explain why. He/she just walks out.
As a parent, what would you tell the third grader? Just because you don’t like the rules in place does not mean you don’t have to follow them and surely does not mean you get to storm out of class. The middle schooler? Coach is in charge and while you may disagree or think there is a better way, you are a member of a team and he/she has more experience than you, follow the play. If you have a different suggestion, address it respectfully after practice. Maybe he/she will use it next time! The new employee? You’re fired. You don’t walk out on a shift because you don’t agree with a customer. The CEO at your new job? Pretty sure you’d be visibly upset and extremely confused as to why he/she couldn’t express his thoughts verbally in order to help you grow as an employee and create a better product.
Many of you by now are aware that a group of students walked out of their own graduation when Vice President Mike Pence stood up to the podium to deliver the University of Notre Dame’s commencement address. They upped and left while the VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was preparing to deliver remarks. The VICE PRESIDENT*. Are you kidding me right now? Regardless, they left.
If you want a visual for the word immature, here you have it, folks. He was not there to impart policy, to force his views down your throat or even throw shade. He was there to celebrate, along with the families and friends seated in the audience, the great accomplishment those students had all achieved – graduating from college. As a man holding both a bachelors and law degree, he is all to familiar with what that achievement means and the hard work the students put in each day to reach their goal of graduating.
Each of the students who walked out, sure they had the ‘right’ to do so. You do you, boo boo. BUT what did they truly achieve? The real MVP is the student who disagrees with the policy of the current administration, but stayed seated, showed respect for the invited speaker, and gained a wealth of new knowledge on how someone he does not see eye-to-eye with views the future – because that is what most graduation speakers tend to talk about… your future, not how you should view the budget, gay rights or the military.
It is pertinent to being successful that one can disagree – even down to the core – with someone else but still express their views respectfully, still work hand-in-hand and will work to be educated on how the opposing side views things. Many of the people who make up our great nation, especially the ones who walk out of their own graduation, forget the importance of seeing both sides. If you ignore those who see things differently, that does not make them go away, does not change their perspective and does not achieve much of anything. But if you make a point to understand policy from all sides, you will have gained a great advantage**.
I’d be curious what those students are actively doing to contribute to changing policy they seem to so vastly disagree with. What did they believe was being accomplished by walking out? Are they activists in their community? Any of them running for office in their communities? I’d bet not, because how could they when they think the answer to fixing the problem is to pull the blanket over their head instead of facing the problem head on.
You cannot justify this with ‘at least they didn’t boo, they just walked out’. Both are wrong. Both are disrespectful. I hope one day someone walks out on them, in the middle of a big shining moment and decides that being selfish is more important, so then maybe they will have the opportunity to understand, to grow, to learn to hear both sides. You don’t have to ever change your perspective, your views, your policy, your morals, but unless you wish to continue hiding in the corner, the answer surely isn’t: just walk out.
*I don’t care if it was the VP, POTUS himself, Amy Schumer, JLO, Sheryl Sandberg, or Elmo. All still applies.
**I encourage each of you who agree or disagree to share your thoughts, opinions and perspectives in the comments. Some students may prefer to walk away, but I’d actually like to continue seeing things from both sides.