Grace Under Firing: The Gift of Gratitude

An American diplomat, Thomas Countryman, was fired by the Trump administration a few days after Trump took office as president. Countryman was on his way to a conference on arms control when he learned of his sudden ousting.

Countryman had given thirty-five years of service to his country. He was a talented career officer, relieved of duty in a purge reminiscent of the old Soviet Union.

One might expect him to be bitter. Instead, in a farewell address to his U.S. State Department colleagues, Countryman wrote: “Some of you have asked if recent events have left me disgruntled. The answer is no; I am probably the most ‘gruntled’ person in the room.”

He quoted from another retiring ambassador: “The State Department doesn’t owe me anything. It has given me everything.” Countryman went on to count the blessings in his career of service.

Another official unceremoniously relieved of his duties, James Comey, wrote in a similar vein to his former FBI colleagues: “I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.”

He ended the letter: “Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.”

Donald Trump also has much to be thankful for. He was granted the opportunity to serve his country in ways given only to a few.

However, his tweets, his main form of communication, show little evidence of grace or gratitude. Perhaps he should ponder the words of those public servants that he has attempted to humiliate.

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