The first Monday of each month, the government of Timor-Leste, represented by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs or MNEC – Ministerio dos Negocios Estrangeiros e Cooperação – as they usually call it, swear the flag with their best suit, their best tie and uniquely well dressed for the 35 degrees at 7.30 am like on the last 5 November.
The Timor-Leste flag swearing ceremony represents the ultimate resistance of this people before independence, the promise of liberty and growth. For 40 minutes, those public officials are remembered of how lucky they are today, 10 years after Independence. Their leaders, ministers, priests or other VIP transpire and share words of peace and hope as most as possible. They need it as they need rice. Once their brothers, fathers and families were killed and mutilated in the name of independence. The proclamation and solemn declaration of its monthly confirmation of freedom is a consistent reminder for Timorese and for our species of animals – human beings – the only species with memory, but with a very short one, that the freedom is not a gift given by nature, but the result of deep wars and enormous suffering of many. This is what I usually call living diplomacy and touching protocol, much more than studying or memorizing its rules, but putting ourselves out there, vulnerable, ready to receive that feeling of the ceremony of freedom even if it is not our own. This is part of humanity and part of the why International Relations core word is understanding. Understanding is achieved with soft diplomacy skills.