Do you remember your high school or college commencement speaker? Our principal gave my high school graduation speech and a wealthy business man gave the one at my college. I honestly don’t remember a word they said but I do remember the experience to be one of excitement and respect for the position that someone much higher on the food chain than I had for them. Why else would they be invited to address a group of future leaders unless they were successful in their field and had something remotely interesting to say that might help us in our future endeavors? Agree with the choice or not it was only right to give these speakers our full attention and respect while they challenged us as we set out to the awaiting future. I would have never dreamed of heckling or disrespecting them in anyway because my actions not only reflected on me and my family sitting in the audience, my actions were also a reflection of the institution that was about to put their seal of approval upon me. Acting a fool in that moment, I would have said more about what I learned in my four years there than anything reflected on a school transcript.
Unfortunately for a group of about 100 graduates at Notre Dame last weekend they did not get the speech about character and respect for those in leadership roles who are selected to address the graduating class. A group that calls themselves We StaND For staged a walkout to protest Vice President Pence when he began to deliver the commencement speech on Sunday morning. What a disappointment to see this type of behavior from a group of young people who have no doubt seen only two election cycles since their 18th birthday. Also, to see this happen at the nation’s most prominent Catholic university. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/05/21/protesting-notre-dame-students-walk-out-of-mike-pences-commencement-speech/?utm_term=.b5e8aeba7dad
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a more frosty reception when she attempted to delivered the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Florida. Some students stood up and turned their back. At one point the booing was so loud and distracting that the school’s president stood up, interrupted DeVos, took to the microphone, and said to the students, “If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go.” Your degrees will be mailed to you? With this type of behavior, why would you want these individuals representing your school? Similar protests have happened with former Presidents Obama and Bush.
What are we to make of a group of students who behave this way? What does it tell us about our future as a nation? I believe that many of the problems begin here. I am all for free speech but there is an appropriate time and place based on the message you want to send. The Reverend Dr. King is remembered for the power of what he said and did not say because of the time and place he chose. What’s missing today are men and women who lead with class and demand the same from the young and old. A nation left to itself will die from within.
Proverbs 29:18 warns us “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction.” We are dying from lack of leadership and direction. Proverbs 29 is an excellent read that explains why things are happening the way they are right now in our world. One does not need to be a God follower to see the truth revealed in these verses. These things begin at home and continue as we release our young people into the world. We must demand a higher standard of maturity from our institutions of higher education. It is unfortunate that these organizations feel that it is not their place to correct this behavior. If maturity is not modeled and demanded here, why do we expect this next generation to display it in the workforce? We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to establish an environment that will help them be the best they can be in this life and the one to come.
Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor. Romans 13:7
Serving the Savior
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