The farewell adress by Kofi Annan had an eerie familiarity to it. It is the speech that every supervisor makes when they have completely ruined a department, a business, a church, or an organization. They retire or are put out to pasture (or move on to ruin someplace else), and the farewell is always the same. They cheerfully note successes in specific, even if they are about trivial items. We worked very hard on the Hamster Redefinition Best Practice Guidelines. I thought the conference went very well... The failures are alluded to in the vaguest terms. Kofi's image was of stones that had been rolled to the top of a mountain, but had fallen back down again. The massive corruption at the United Governments was not a result of things just happening to go wrong because the job of world peace is so hard.
But most saliently, these departing failures stress how they still believe in the ideals they started with, oh those many years ago when they were young and inexperienced. They state this as a point of great pride, as if their refusal to see with clarity regardless of the deterioration around them were evidence of the noble quality of not having compromised their ideals. Compromising to the point of abandonment all your actual morality, while holding the fantasy vision of what life should be, is seen as a good thing?
A department head retired 5-10 years ago. He left the department in two warring camps. Things had receded from open hostilities only because the second-in-command, who had been for years impatiently pointing out the obvious, had left in frustration a few months before. The obvious was that four people in one of the factions were destroying the work of everyone else. One was dishonest, one was useless, one was insane, and one was dishonest, useless, and insane. The refusal to acknowledge this made all discussions about department goals, all day-away retreats, all imported speakers to help us heal, completely useless. At his retirement, he spoke with great feeling about the original ideals that brought him into social work, and how he still believed them.
The second-in-command who left is likely still quite liberal in her politics, and would be appalled to be compared to George Bush. But I think the association is apt. Bush goes to the UN and says out loud what everyone knows but no one will admit. For this he is treated as if he is the problem. This often happens to the person who has the gall to point out the problem no one wants to see. The crowd does not really laugh when it is revealed that the emperor has no clothes. What they really do is kill the little boy who said it out loud.