While I’m on the topic of large organizations in need of rededication, I read yesterday that the United Nations accidentally started a cholera epidemic in Haiti a year-and-a-half ago that, so far, has claimed over 8,000 lives and infected some 647,000 others.
The epidemic started when an inadequately screened group of soldiers were sent in from Nepal, where there was an active outbreak of cholera. The soldiers were stationed in an area known for its sewage leaks and the rest is history.
The UN said nothing for the first 18 months of the crisis until just last week when it declared that the claims were “not receivable.” Their rationale was neither subtle nor apologetic, they simply and boldly claimed immunity from liability, prosecution and the law. Unfortunately for the Haitians, the UN’s interpretation of its own statues are generally incontrovertible by other governmental bodies.
The UN was created to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights” and “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for…international law can be maintained, but this move flies in the face of its noble and challenging mission. I have to wonder why those in positions of leadership in large organizations like this (or in the Catholic Church as we considered yesterday) compromise their honor at critical points.
It is truly disappointing that the leadership does not take swift action to own up to its mistakes, repent and move forward. Call me naive, but this approach still works. It can and will unleash a tide of change more powerful than the forces seeking to cover up, but it has to find expression through the right person or people in the organization. At the end of the day the forces working to suppress the evidence of the presence of a truly upright organization are no more powerful than Don Quijote’s windmills. They must steal power to have it.
Have we strayed so far from honor and dignity that the appearance of righteousness can now count more than the fact of it? I think not. It’s time to make a change.