Closing one of the final chapters of his eight years in office, President Barack Obama made his last speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Unfortunately, relatively few people may actually be aware of this significant moment. The president's final address envisioning equitable globalism and peaceful foreign policy was largely eclipsed by the breaking news of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's pending divorce.
Granted, it's not wholly surprising that the dry news of our president speaking about the crisis in Syria was overshadowed by the collapse of a heavily followed celebrity couple's marriage. However, in this particular instance, there is a deep irony, given the fact that Jolie is officially a Special Envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Passing up coverage and air time on the horrors of the Syrian refugee crisis in favor of detailing her divorce is absurd on multiple levels.
Obama addressed the civil war in Syria head-on in his final speech, saying, "there's no ultimate military victory to be won." Instead, he stressed that countries must "continue the hard work of diplomacy." Obama also offered a universal piece of advice for the global community: “We need to embrace the tolerance that results from respect for all human beings.”
Back in June, Jolie met with the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. to speak about the refugee crisis on World Refugee Day. She shared her views on the devastation in Syria with People magazine, and stressed our responsibility to aid the refugee crisis through humanitarian work and not military force:
If I ask people for anything on this day, it is to take a moment and to truly grasp what a refugee crisis of today's magnitude means for peace and security of the world. I ask people to understand that with 65 million people displaced by conflict, we are facing a world of wars we cannot ignore or turn our backs on.
Similarly, during Obama's speech on Tuesday, he stressed the global responsibility to band together in cooperation to bring forth resolutions for solving international crises, including the one plaguing Syria.
We have to remember the choices of individual human beings led to repeated world war. But we have to remember the choices of individual human beings created a United Nations so that a war like that would never happen again.
Perhaps the best choice in the wake of the divorce of Brangelina is to forego theorizing about their personal pain, and instead key in to the worsening civil war abroad that Jolie has worked to highlight. I imagine that's something that she would certainly support.