Having experienced a number of college graduations, I have been witness to many inspirational speeches in which the new graduates were encouraged to pursue with passion their supposed mandate to change the world.

These calls to go out into the world and make a difference have a ring of virtuous purpose that is hard to dispute or challenge.   I agree that it is a virtue to use your talents and passion to help the people in your life and to make your small part of the world a better place.   However, it can become burdensome and arrogant when you attempt to impose your passions on those who do not want or need your help.

As noble as it may appear to want to make it your mission to change the world, it is also extremely presumptuous to assume that we all want to live in the world that you feel the need to create.  From religious zealots to militant animal rights advocates to antiwar protestors to activists seeking social or economic upheaval, they all have one thing in common.  Even though they usually represent a small segment of the population they believe that the vast majority of people who do not share their passion are wrong and must concede to their point of view.

I am tired of being assailed by those people who want to force me to adopt their passion as my own just as I am sure that most people who privately pursue their passion for their lives, their families and their careers without fanfare are tired of being told how to live and what to think.  It is time for the usually silent majority to speak up and stop allowing the vocal minority to keep preemptively changing their world.

It is not that there isn’t room for improvement or that all change is bad; however, it seems that those people who are the most discontent or the least in tune with mainstream thinking are the ones who refuse to adapt and instead seek to impose their point of view on the rest of us.   They fail to understand that the world does not need to be remade in their image every time they are unhappy with the state of the world.

I am all for the freedom of speech and encourage everyone to state your case, make your arguments and initiate a passionate debate or dialogue to promote your point of view.   If your ideas truly have merit, you may rightfully prevail in changing the world.  What I have a problem with and where I believe you have crossed the line from advocacy to arrogance or worse is when, for example, you physically attack doctors and clinics that perform abortions to satisfy your extreme religious beliefs, or you assault people with fur coats because of your peculiar sensitivities over the status of animals, or you obstruct military bases and harass military personnel in order to undermine our country’s efforts to win a war that you personally object to, or you try to disrupt our economy and target successful businesses and wealthy people because you are unhappy with the state of your personal financial condition.

I acknowledge that the right to assemble and peacefully air your grievances is part of our freedom of speech; however, when thoughtful persuasion gives way to violent protests, civil disobedience and criminal activity as your platform to bully and intimidate society into accepting your point of view then I, for one, will no longer give any credence to your cause and demand that you keep your passionate desire to change my world to yourself.

There will no posting on Monday due to the holiday. On Wednesday, Annemarie reflects on our bittersweet empty nest in “The World Is Their Nest”.