Ensuring the status of diplomacy doesn’t become the trap of privilege

Yesterday I was in a conversation about diplomacy. The art and act of being diplomatic.

In all of my work, I speak of the inherent requirement for polarity, (tensegrity in the words of Bucky Fuller) to be present in any viable system and relationship. For anything to hold its shape, there needs to be a positive and negative charge. For integrity to exist, there needs to be polarity.

Diplomacy’s etymology is from Latin – an official document conferring a privilege.

It invites the question…how do we confer privilege? Does someone’s accumulated wealth or fame do this automatically? 

Do we confer privilege through title and status? Earned or inherited?

Does it come through the path of achievement? 

And because someone has title, status, and privilege, does that mean we should step over how they act in the world? Turn a blind eye? 

The tension we are in is the crumbling of the old, the dawning recognition by many that those with apparent title are charlatans and shadows of a corrupted system. Their privilege has come off the backs of the many: access, colonisation, wealth as buying and corrupting power.

The increasing realisation that there is a whole world of people…honest, dedicated to a cause beyond self, working away far from the towers of privilege and the halls of diplomacy, genuine regular people who are for the most part, underpaid and scarcely seen.

And that those who are negotiating the halls of perceived power are often so far removed from the regular, the very architecture of people who are holding the house of cards up.

Perhaps to be diplomatic, to be a genuine diplomate, is never to forget who you are working for and towards. To ensure that at no time the status of diplomacy doesn’t become the trap of privilege. 

This is the tension. To speak to the crumbling halls of power in a way that does not step over lies, cheating, and callous disregard, and at the same time never forget that the role of a diplomat is to serve their people. And to do this while maintaining your own sense of humility.

April 16th 2020

Photo taken April 14th, 2020