If I am honest with myself about my own accountability, how would I answer the following questions?
“In looking back we shall all record how we responded to the escalating horrors of the last four years. And as we do so, there are questions that each of us will have to answer. What did I do? Could I have done more? And could it have made a difference? Did I let my prejudice, my indifference and my fear overwhelm my reason? And how would I react next time?”
As reported in the Washington Post, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked these questions about the horrific Bosnia conflict where estimates were that one hundred thousand (100,000) people were slaughtered. These were war crimes and a small number of people were ultimately held accountable; however, accountability can do nothing to diminish crimes to humanity of this magnitude.
Read the questions again. This exact set of questions applies to the very situation we are living in the United States today. With the rule of law under attack, with critical institutions under assault, with a president who is executing retribution against an “enemies list” of public officials and is intentionally, deliberately dividing this country’s citizens, I have to be brutally honest about my own accountability.
What are we willing to tolerate from an elected leader who is a despot? Where are the congressional voices who should be speaking out in utter outrage? Where are they? What is the tipping point?
Kofi Annan died today, 18-Aug-2018. He was called soft-spoken, patrician, courtly, charismatic and measured. In his quiet demeanor, he was an elegant figure of moral authority. Annan “seemed to radiate an aura of probity and authority” [Alan Cowell, New York Times].
Voices of real power are not ugly, divisive, narcissistic and assaultive. We each have voices that are many times more authoritative than our despot president.
What does my voice of authority sound like? If I bring Kofi Annan’s questions into the present, they are: What am I doing? Can I do more? Can I make a difference? Am I letting my prejudice, my indifference and my fear overwhelm my reason?
Personal action must accompany honest accountability. The voices who should be protecting us are silent. We know how to protect ourselves and each other from the worst that humanity can offer.
We simply need to act.