An Open Letter to Harrison Butker on his Commencement Address

 

Dear Mr. Butker,

I want to start by sharing with you that I am a woman who was raised Catholic and have an intense and personal relationship with God—in fact, we talk every day. Your commencement address was the topic of our latest conversation.

Your address stated, “We must always speak and act in charity but never mistake charity for cowardice.” So, in the spirit of charity and with bold courage, filled with the grace of God, and his message of love, acceptance, and his expectation that we stand up for each other, let me share a few of my thoughts on your message.

As hard as it was, I listened to your address to the college graduates several times, and I couldn’t find a clear message for them, I mostly heard your bias, fears, judgment, and personal issues and struggles coming through in your words. And worst of all, you used God to spew those judgments and hate.

You addressed men and women whose presence at a college graduation ceremony signaled their desire for careers, jobs, and the opportunity to engage in meaningful work. Yet, your focus seemed more on you and your wife, your intolerance and judgment of so many people that I lost count, and your seeming loss of sight of the young graduates in front of you.

You seemed to struggle to read the room and notice the diverse group you addressed. Based on statistics, your audience was likely filled with men, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those who are pro-choice and catholic, Republicans and Democrats, those who will not be able to conceive a child, those who will choose not to have children, men and women who will decide to stay home raising their children while their wives work outside the home. But you continued to speak from your own perspective while disregarding them.

I suggest Mr. Butker that you may want to follow your own advice about “accepting your lane and staying in it.

As a white, multi-millionaire, heterosexual male your lane affords you a unique and different perspective that does not reflect the desires, struggles, wants, or needs of all of us. But you seemed to be blind or uninterested in realizing these facts.

If you are not a woman, this is NOT your lane. In our lane, we decide how to manage our bodies, our spirits, our relationships, and our careers. Please don’t “venture a guess that the majority of us are most excited about getting married and having children.” You look foolish—this is NOT your lane.

If being a homemaker (a person who spends their time looking after a home and doing housework) is the most important title, perhaps you should  consider changing yours from NFL kicker to homemaker.

If you are not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, this is NOT your lane and I proudly say that your hate is not welcome.

Oh yeah, and one more thing—that “Covid Fiasco,” as you called it, was actually a tragic global pandemic that killed millions and millions of people.  As a healthcare professional, I watched the suffering and personally lost people I loved. If you were not part of the solution to this tragic event, this is NOT your lane.

Staying in my lane, I would not presume to tell you how to kick a football, honor God, or suggest that you stay home and raise your children. However, your statement about the importance of men in the home gives me pause to wonder why you work outside the home. Your words, “As men, we set the tone of the culture. And when that is absent disorder, dysfunction and chaos set in this absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation.”

But in my lane as a psychologist, mother, and grandmother who worked and raised children (yes, we really can do both), and as a woman with a partner who never once reduced my identity to the person who cleans the toilets and makes the meals (yes, we both can do those homemaker tasks), let me make a suggestion.

I may suggest that you take your faith out for a spin. That’s what God tells me daily. Listen more and talk less, especially to the groups of people outside of your lane—you may actually learn something that will help you work through your anger and hate.

Lori Stevic-Rust