Image Credits: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP
On Sunday, dozens of students walked out as Vice President Pence stood to give the commencement address at Notre Dame. Since this act of “resistance,” there have been commentaries from both sides of the aisle either praising the students for their acts of “courage” or admonishing them for their disrespect. I only have one thing to say to the students who walked out of Vice President Pence’s commencement speech: it’s time to grow up.
Millennials get a bad rap for being ungrateful, self centered, egotistical brats. What you did only on Sunday perpetuates that stereotype. As a member of the Millennial generation, I am disappointed in your lack of respect, and that you allowed your supposed entitlement to not be offended to cloud your common sense. Nothing prevented you from sitting and listening to the advice of a man who has come so far in life, who took the time away from his schedule and family to be with you on such an important and pivotal day. Regardless of his political beliefs, there is value in what he has to say simply because of the life he has lived. He is deserving of your respect because he is the Vice President of the United States of America.
There seems to be some misconception that in order to even listen to what someone has to say you have to agree with them, or that you’re somehow condoning their speech. That’s simply untrue.
I am a fierce advocate of free speech. I might not always agree with what someone has to say, but I will fight for them to be able to say it. If you believe what you did was part of the fight to further freedoms, you’re sorely mistaken. Fighting for freedom and equality would mean respecting even those who disagree with you. Being open minded means being willing to see the value in another person for more than their political stance. If you wanted to truly made an impact, you would have overcome your own pride. You would have listened to what Vice President Pence had to say, then gone out and made a real difference based on your own convictions.
We are the future leaders of America. With your behavior, that scares me. Thinking that we have 20 year olds who believe they know more about life than a man who is so accomplished as to be the Vice President of one of the most powerful nations in the world is quite frankly terrifying. Believing that we have future presidents, governors, elected officials, and representatives who only want to hear from people who agree with them should scare anyone. A leader is someone who faces adversity yet triumphs. A leader is someone who has to face those who vehemently oppose what they stand for. In spite of that, they stand firm in their convictions. Leaders don’t walk out. Leaders stand up.
College is a time in your life where you’re supposed to grow and become ready for the real world. Your time at college is where you should learn the most about people who are different from yourself. It’s there where you take in all that you can learn so you can go and make a difference. What you told the world by walking out of the commencement address is that you are in no way prepared for the real world. When you walked out of your own graduation what you said was “how I feel is more important than anything you could have to say.”.What happens when you disagree with your boss on your first job? Do you yell hate speech and walk out? The real world is not a nice place. You have to learn how to deal with it. There are no safe spaces. Facts don’t care about your feelings. Walking out of life isn’t an option.
Let me be very clear. You are not entitled to not being offended. You are not entitled to silence someone else because you don’t like what they have to say. You are not entitled to anything. It’s time to learn that very valuable life lesson, since quite clearly you have yet to.
To the students who walked out, it’s time to grow up, and for your sake I hope you do.
To the students who disagreed with Vice President Pence but remained seated, thank you, and congratulations.