During times of crisis it’s the job of a leader to step up and dampen fear and also inspire community. In other words, a leader is one who engages in constructive diplomacy and provides solutions to problems. It’s only under this kind of influence that a nation or even a government doesn’t just survive but also thrives. President Donald Trump’s failure to display these necessary qualities led Daniel Kammen, professor at University of California Berkley, to resign from his position of Science Envoy to the US State Department.
Surprisingly, the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement that aims to reconcile international relations by the prevention of environmental destruction, was not the final straw that broke the camel’s back for Kammen. It did make his job as a sort of scientific diplomat harder. It was Trump’s refusal to condemn the hatred and violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. that ultimately encouraged Kammen’s resignation. Kammen sees a connection between these two intentional missteps of Trump’s, however. In his and many other Americans’ eyes, rather than commit to the previously stated values, Trump has consistently destroyed rather than created bridges, emboldened hate rather than unity, and promoted ideology rather than pursuit of truth and clarity.
There is something particularly problematic if the people that work in your administration are in complete disagreement with your decision-making. What is even more troubling is when the leader in question doesn’t care about the thoughts and feelings of his people. When fellow leaders and diplomats, such as previous Vice President Al Gore, call for your resignation it’s time to listen.
As we continue to progress on this downward slope our country’s citizens, like Kammen and the White House Arts and Humanities Committee, who also resigned as a group in response to Trump, have to think critically what it means to be complicit and what it means to resist. In times of disappointing leadership, it’s inspiring to see those who have the power to rise up doing so. Let us continue to use these individuals as examples of what it means to be empowered to make change and establish peace.