There was a disturbing story out of South Orange, New Jersey recently where a group of middle school students who walked out of an event rather than take a picture with the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan. It is a sad statement about our country that children are raised to despise those with whom they disagree. Ryan is third in line for the presidency. Teaching your children to show contempt for our national leaders brings a terrible cost for the country in terms of the civility and dialogue.
The walk out of half of the students at the South Orange Middle School event was intentionally insulting to Ryan and disrespectful to his office. There was a time when children were taught that they should maintain a level of respect for the government even when you oppose its policies. When the Speaker takes the time to come to your school, he deserves a modicum of respect in my view.
Ryan is a conservative and many disagree with his positions. However, he is part of a democratic system and represents the majority of the “People’s House.” His appearance at the school was a wonderful opportunity for these students and an opportunity to set aside disagreements for a civil and respectful discussion.
I have no problem with taking children to protests though I did not support the protests of the inauguration of President Trump. There are times to voice opposition and times to show respectful consideration. Indeed, I would be thrilled to have my children meet with leaders of different political viewpoints as part of their understanding of our pluralistic democratic system.
I would have been deeply upset with any of my children walking out on such an esteemed visitor to their middle school.
What do you think?