WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked State Department employees to do a random act of kindness each day as he said farewell to a “mean-spirited” city.
Tillerson, who has not been in charge but has remained at Foggy Bottom for a short transition period, said he appreciated “the opportunity to bid you a proper farewell.”
He thanked all employees “from the mail room to the seventh floor and all points in between” as well as at “all of our missions abroad – our locally employed staff, our EFMs, eligible family members, to our ambassadors and chief of mission – everyone is important to the delivery of the mission of the State Department.”
“In preparing for the transition to the secretary-designate, I compiled all of the policy decks that were developed by you and your colleagues that were first the basis for discussions at the National Security Council and ultimately with the president,” he said. “These decks, of which I counted 13 since February the 1st of 2017, provide not only the policy basis but the strategies and tactics which guide the department’s execution against those policies. I also provided the secretary-designate recent decks which were under development to provide updates of how tactics may need to adjust to current circumstances. Because while the policies and the strategies should never change, we must constantly review how the tactics are delivering on the objectives.”
Tillerson noted that “the country faces many challenges – in some instances perplexing foreign affairs relationships, and in other instances serious national security threats.”
“In these times, your continued diligence and devotion to the State Department’s mission has never been more necessary,” he said. “As you go about your duties, each of you carrying out your individual responsibilities as well as your collective duty, it is my hope that you will be guided by and test your actions each day against the values that we have spoken about over this past year: first, to value the safety and security of yourselves, your loved ones, and your colleagues; second, to maintain a commitment to accountability by first holding yourselves accountable so that you’re able to hold others accountable, and that the positive environment of accountability is underpinned by honesty and integrity in all that you do.”
Tillerson advised the staffers to “never lose sight of your most valuable asset, the most valuable asset you possess: your personal integrity.”
“Not one of you was gifted it; you were born with it. It belongs to you, and always has and will belong to you and you alone. Only you can relinquish it or allow it to be compromised. Once you’ve done so, it is very, very hard to regain it. So guard it as the most precious thing you possess,” he added.
“And finally, I hope you will continue to treat each other with respect. Regardless of the job title, the station in life, or your role, everyone is important to the State Department. We’re all just human beings trying to do our part.”
In that spirit, Tillerson concluded by asking each employee “undertake to ensure one act of kindness each day towards another person.”
“This can be a very mean-spirited town,” he quipped to laughter and applause. “But you don’t have to choose to participate in that.” Employees applauded in agreement. “Each of us get to choose the person we want to be, and the way we want to be treated, and the way we will treat others.”
Tillerson found out last week that he was fired via Twitter. President Trump has picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson; Pompeo faces the Senate confirmation process before he can assume the post.