Having Your Nationality Stolen by a Madman

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, CEO of Grassroot Diplomat, reflects on the actions and global repercussions of a Head of State gone rogue. See what she means in her latest Founder's Blog.

Photo Credit: Duncan Rawlinson

Photo Credit: Duncan Rawlinson

In my last post, I talked about how a civil servant commented that I was going rogue by creating new grounds for diplomacy from the outside. How about if your Head of State went rogue and started to do whatever they wanted to do, completely acting beyond national, party AND the people’s interest? When one publically and very clearly speaks out of line, damages decades of diplomatic relations with an unsophisticated tongue, and literally shoves people out of the way for a photo call, what do you do about it?

There have been reports with diplomats’ sidelining their boss and quietly not agreeing with the decisions that are being made up top. When one can’t agree with one’s government, conducting diplomacy for one’s own country becomes very difficult and you start to walk the fine line on whether your own values and ethics are at risk from total combustion.

I recently had an alarming discussion with my husband, who was so upset about the buffoonery actions of his Head of State that he wanted to burn his own flag. His national flag, at that moment of anger, no longer signified values he cherished so much – not when the Head of State was making a mockery out of values that were so deeply rooted into the culture and history.  At that moment in time, he had no nationality.

When a Head of State goes rogue, how does that make a citizen feel? How does the actions of a government reflect back on the citizen that one was meant to represent? Least of all embarrassed…it’s as bad as having one’s nationality stripped away, leaving them feeling as though they don’t know who they are and where they belong anymore. The severity of such actions are real, and the damage these actions are having on the minds and psychology of expats operating in foreign lands are even more profound than those back home.

At a diplomatic level, we never think about how the way we represent our country has a profound impact on the citizen’s we are meant to represent, and this is a fundamental problem in our current system and training of diplomats. On the world stage, we need the best reflection of our country so that we, within that country, can stand tall with pride for good reason. Hiding one’s face in utter shame and anger is not a feeling one usual elicits with official and international representation.

We live in unprecedented times where anything goes. Having said that, it makes me more and more defiant to see through my mission to modernise the practices of diplomacy. We must learn to be fluid and flexible at the face of the most outrageous of circumstances. We can’t shy away when clearly others don’t. We must be bolder, stronger, more dynamic in the face of confusion and utter beguilement. We must change how we represent and do the work of diplomacy at the most grassroots level.

So, what will you do to ensure that your values are not being chewed up by your government? How do you protect yourself and represent your country in the best light in the worst case scenario? Leave your comments in the post and share your opinion.


If you haven’t done so already, you can listen to our free podcasts ‘Grassroot Diplomat Talks’ on iTunes, Soundcloud and Blubrry. We have a whole host of advice on alternative routes to diplomacy to help create modern diplomats in a fast-changing world.


Serving you with hope and respect,

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa
CEO, Grassroot Diplomat