People look through your words to your actions when they want to know what you really believe. More importantly, their actions are guided by your actions. As we’ve all heard, if you don’t walk the talk, they follow the walk and not the talk.
Two recent events got me thinking about this. Both should be events to celebrate and yet, in both cases a stronger message is coming from what lies beneath the good news for the person. It’s a quite different message. The optics…and walk…aren’t good.
The United Nations has announced that Sam Kutess, Uganda’s Foreign Minister, will be elected President of the UN General Assembly. It seems he’s the only candidate due to some obscure way the UN chooses people for such positions. There’s the first problem. Elected?
Then there is his background. He has been censored by his own government for corruption, the United States government considers him exceptionally corrupt, and has been accused of accepting bribes from foreign oil companies. Local courts have acted to allow him to stay in office in spite of this. What’s with these courts?
Beyond that, he strongly supports the harsh laws against homosexuals recently enacted in Uganda. It is considered one of the most homophobic laws in the world with penalties that include life imprisonment for repeat homosexuality and seven year sentences for helping homosexuals avoid detection.
Quite the fellow to lead the United Nations in its quest to ensure good government, human rights, and fair treatment for all the world’s people.
Bowe Bergdahl, a United States soldier has been released after five years of captivity in Afghanistan. Great news…except he was released in exchange for five once high level Taliban captives held in Guantanamo Bay.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced that in spite of what everyone sees, “we did not negotiate with terrorists. Sergeant Bergdahl was a prisoner of war.” Good luck making that distinction after years of treating the Taliban as terrorists.
Beyond the terrorist issue, if Sergeant Bergdahl was a prisoner of war, why aren’t those still stuck in Guanatanamo Bay prisoners of war deserving treatment as such? They were captured in the same war as Bergdahl. Now Hagel has essentially dealt with five of them as such.
In both cases seemingly wonderful events for Kutess and Bergdahl have led to outpourings of anger at the actions, direct contradiction of long stated positions, and undercut messages about expected behavior. Actions really do speak louder than words.