I hear "yeah, but" all day long. I hear it from students at school. I hear it from my children. I read it and see it all over the internet; from autism-land to politics, we have become a nation of YeahButs. And it's enough. "Yeah, but" is ALWAYS an excuse for avoiding accountability, and it's not okay.
It's not okay for students to fail to show up prepared for class or with late work and offer me a "yeah, but" as to why they didn't take the course seriously and in an attempt to avoid the very real consequences that happen when work isn't done.
It's absolutely not okay for my children to ever think "yeah, but" will let the buck pass them by. Accountability for one's actions is a fundamental part of being an equal partner in social contracts.
That's something that many of would like to deny, so I'm going to write it again: Accountability for one's actions is a fundamental part of being an equal partner in social contracts.
I want my children to grow up and take their place in society as equals and that means learning to accept responsibility for their actions. There are no "yeah, buts" in an equal arrangement, not as a way to escape accountability for one's actions. There should certainly be compassion, accommodations, and discussions as to what equality looks like, but in the end, the individual must own his or her actions and inactions.
Character and integrity demand that. So no more "yeah, but." Not from my students. They can own their choices. Not for children. They can quit blaming each other for their actions. And not for me, either. It's time for all of us, as a society, to stop the "yeah, buts" and hold ourselves accountable for the things we say and do. Owning our actions and owning up to them when we mess up is an integral part of being a responsible member of society. We can't even begin to correct our mistakes if we can't own them.
As students, that means owning the grade that their choices earn them, even when it's not what they want. Nothing comes for free, and learning certainly isn't an effort-free venture, so why should the grade be? Accountability begins with the student. And that means if there are issues that need to be addressed, they need to be addressed before due dates, not after. No more "yeah, but."
As for my darling children, when you yell at your sibling, you don't get to say, "yeah, but he..." or yeah, but she..." Not my problem. You chose to act, so you can own the consequences of that behavior, and your sibling can own his or her consequence for any misbehavior.
If I yell or lose my temper or otherwise screw the pooch, I don't get to go "yeah, but" and I'm not going to play a sympathy card. If I don't do my job, I'm not afforded the luxury of a "yeah, but." The real world doesn't play the "yeah, but" game all that well and it shouldn't.
Just look at all the "yeah, but" going on in federal and state governments. Our rights are being slowly eroded (all while we "yeah, but" that we were too busy to vote or pay attention). Very real crises are being ignored while elected officials "yeah, but" their way into re-elections despite accomplishing nothing worthwhile and plenty that was harmful.
If we want our society to change for the better, we have to set aside the "yeah, but" and get off our butts. All that's required for it to continue to circle the drain is to stay on our butts, yeah-butting all day long.