Up to Monday this week, I had two resignations that were standing out in my eyes, whose copies I keep in my collections. Topping the list has been the resignation of British politician Robin Cook on March 17 2003 over his disagreement with Prime Minister Tony Blair on whether it was rightful to wage war against Iraq or not. In his resignation, Cook said: “I cannot support a war without international resolution or domestic support….”
This was a man who was one of the towering political figures in Britain at the time but he tendered his resignation as Leader of the House. He had previously served as Secretary of State (Senior Minister) responsible for Foreign Affairs since May 1997 until June 2001.
In resigning from his powerful position and immediately taking his seat in the backbench, Cook demonstrated that it is important to stand for one’s values, truth and principles and that standing for these ordeals ought to be done at even high price.
The second impressive resignation, whose copy I also keep in my collections, might surprise you. It was a resignation in the year 2000 while I was in college, by a colleague of mine. This friend, Charles Chivundu, was chairperson of a student organisation and some of the members thought that he needed to resign on a matter they thought was not appropriate for someone leading them.
What impressed me most was not necessarily the importance of the position he was holding or the profile of his office. Rather, I was impressed with the actual script of his resignation, whose impact was comparable to that of Robin Cook three years later.
Charles called for an emergency general meeting for the big organisation that he led. At that extraordinary meeting, Charles read out his resignation, a one paged-print out that he had spent the whole day writing. His resignation was so moving that some of those who had demanded his resignation shed tears while others walked straight to him afterwards to offer apologies for what they had done by bringing him down.
These two resignations that I hold in highest rankings have dropped a step each following the resignation of the Pope. I now consider the resignation of Pope Benedict the XVI as the most impressive resignation, displacing Robin Cook’s resignation to number two and pushing Charles Chivundu’s to the third position. Of course, these are my personal rankings and others might have other entries for the top ranked resignations.
What is important is the discussion on why I rank as number one, the Pope’s resignation, out of all resignations that I have come across. It is due to the principle, courage and passion behind this resignation. The Pope was fully aware of the fact that for some 600 years, no Pope had resigned from the position. He was also fully aware that he was holding a very powerful position with influence over more than a billion Catholics and more.
With these facts in mind, and under the pressure of historical trends, it should have been very difficult to even imagine resigning from the position. But the Pope had the courage to execute the results of his rigorous analysis and thought process. The Pope did this because he believes that the organisation that he is leading is bigger and more important than him as an individual member.
The lesson we draw from this dramatic event of the Pope is that we should only carry responsibility for which we have the capacity [and capability] to manage. We should not take on or continue to serve on a position for which our capacity does not match the required levels.
Sadly, many people hung on to positions for which they have no capacity, or capability or just the interest and passion. We in the rise and shine fraternity are now challenged to think twice about the current positions that we hold and in the future, about any new positions we are to be requested to take on. Good luck!.