Thursday, April 3, 2008

Talking about mistakes

"Be humble. Admit your mistakes and failures as soon as you identify them, and try and learn from them..." Sergio Vieira De Mello.

"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." Donald Rumsfeld.

Take your pick. I'll go with the former. Both of these quotations are from Samantha Power's new book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira De Mello and the Fight to Save the World. This is a remarkable book about a remarkable pragmatic idealist who over four decades gets in the middle of major human rights and refugee crises with the goal of protecting the dignity of people in the toughest of circumstances. He makes mistakes, has problems with his own organization (i.e. the UN), evolves, speaks out, and keeps trying. Here is someone guided by values and commitment but has no blueprint or ideological ax to grind. De Mello engages complexity and messes -- learns, makes new mistakes, and learns again. His loss is our loss. It feels good to be inspired.

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