Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

A Living Hell.

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As a person of deep religious convictions,”hell” is not a word that I take lightly nor is the word “evil.” We are living in evil times and the absence of true moral leadership from our President, the GOP and other persons have needlessly created a form of living hell for many Americans.

Great leaders shepherd people through hell in times of crisis. Good leaders expect turbulent cross winds, uphill climbs and fiery furnace experiences in leading others and strive to harness the best resources which enables them to face and surmount crises. The stalwart leadership of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, Theodore Roosevelt’s anti-trust strategies and policies in the Progressive Era, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s all-out efforts to save America in the 1930’s Great Depression, his establishment of the New Deal and proposing the Economic Bill of Rights while accused of being a traitor to his class, Harry S. Truman’s order to desegregate the Armed Services and his guiding of America through the early stages of the Cold War, Dwight David Eisenhower’s marshaling allied forces to victory in World War II, John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier and his deft maneuvering of the Joint Chiefs of Staff through the Cuban Missile Crisis and his catapult into civil rights, Lyndon Baines Johnson’s heroic passing of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts pitting him against many southern loyalist colleagues and his creation of the Great Society to eradicate poverty creating a level playing field for the poor, Barack Obama’s leadership through the Wall Street and American Auto Industry crises, and passing the Affordable Care Act, all come to mind.

None of these leaders were perfect. They all had feet of clay, but few can question their concern for the welfare of all the American people and their willingness to work with political colleagues “across the aisle and beyond,” to remedy numerous crises facing our nation. Throughout American history, great presidential leaders have been instrumental in building the hopes of the people, uniting and guiding them safely through the nation’s trials and storms while building public trust in their capacity to ultimately lead the nation out of disaster and ultimately jettison the American people out of harm’s way.

Unfortunately, such leadership is missing in the highest office of the land and the majority of Republicans in the House and Senate. It is clear to many people that President Donald J. Trump and many Republicans are without the necessary leadership skills or the brave hearts to solve multiple crises facing this nation. Since the onset of the Coronavirus, he has given at best lukewarm, substandard efforts in providing clear, cohesive strategies for taking on and resolving America’s problems. He appears to be woefully incompetent and incapable of making fact-based decisions that will lead the American people out of the nation’s clear and present dangers.

Good to great leaders respect truth. They understand objective reality. They take responsibility for their personal actions and failings, especially during times of crises. When they fail, they try to “fall forward,” in the words of John Maxwell.

One continuing bane is the President’s unwillingness to learn from his advisers and take appropriate action to remedy problems and concerns. He repudiates any information not coalescing with his assumptive world and does not admit or learn from his mistakes. Perhaps, he confuses his previous role as a business CEO with his responsibilities as Commander in Chief. He is brash, quick tempered and free of thoughtfulness; he averts deep study and the patience required of measured leaders who seriously consider all sides of an issue in problem solving.

Since Donald J. Trump took office, the American people have experienced one disaster after another and he has virtually done nothing but pay lip service, berate, name-call, and blame anyone who criticizes or questions his mishandling of crisis.

A living hell is what it is and the future does not bode well if this nation keeps traveling in this hell-bound direction. French Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Hell is other people,” but hell can also be us; leaders who fail to put the needs of the people first by instituting measures to fully protect them, by implementing operational and scientific safeguards to save them and initiating protection of health care workers dying on the job due to exposure to COVID-19. While many workers are still pleading the federal government for personal protection equipment (P.P.E) which it has failed to sufficiently provide, those same workers continue to put their own lives and those of their families at risk serving on the front lines of the battle against this dreadful disease.

The United States has now surpassed all other nations combined in the number of deaths from this perilous disease. Every thirty-two seconds someone is killed by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the president upbraids the Governors of Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and other states for their “failures” during these crises by invoking the “YO-YO Clause,” which says in unprecedented fashion and mostly to blue state governors,“You’re on your own!”

If a federal emergency disaster is declared should not the federal government take the lead in resolving the problem? What presidential leaders at the federal level have prompted states to bid and compete for personal protection equipment in competition with other states and the federal government itself? What happened to the federal government leading the way with relief to those states by providing medical equipment and other medical and financial assistance at a fair, minimal, or even at no cost to states that cannot afford it? Haven’t disaster and emergency relief plans already been developed and codified by the federal government? Why is the president suddenly attempting to reinvent the wheel on equipment distribution and aid for states during this pandemic?

How can a leader who is supposedly the president of all the American people be so cavalier and indifferent to so many Americans dying? Why aren’t more test kits available? Why did the President refuse test kits offered months ago by the World Health Organization? Many people are living through this hell each day and all the president seems to offer are delays and excuses adding fuel to fires already raging. Why didn’t he act last November, December, this January and February after being forewarned that the Corona threat was imminent? Why isn’t he pulling out all stops to get equipment to test and protect workers, to save the dying and to end this horrifying  scourge? Shouldn’t the personal welfare, well-being, and protection of the American people be the president’s number one priority as Commander in Chief? How do you reopen states and businesses for work when you haven’t issued tests to determine who has and doesn’t have the virus? Good leaders don’t keep making inept decisions by repeatedly putting the cart before the ass.

Furthermore, why does the president appear to be so indifferent and impervious toward some people during times of crisis while appearing to easily kowtow to others? African-Americans historically have always disproportionately borne the brunt of multiple problems in this country including often being the last hired and first fired, voter suppression, gerrymandering, insurance red-lining, sub-standard health care or no health-care at all through various forms of Medical Apartheid in the words of Harriet Washington, high unemployment, police brutality, mass incarceration, and inferior education, particularly in the inner cities and urban areas. Nobody is surprised that African-Americans have experienced the greatest number of deaths from this virus which speaks to the continuing disparities of race and class in America which ultimately determine what people will and will not get fluid access to the various systems of life and health support made readily available to other people.

Time after time he has failed to provide leadership that will calm the nation’s nerves and allay its fears. He has eroded confidence and basically ignored people’s suffering in times of crisis. For-profit business models will not work in every crisis. Needed are leaders with a moral core, a soul, compassion, leadership aptitude and acumen who know how to feel people’s pain, how to call up, deploy, utilize and orchestrate various adaptive leadership models to help a nation in dire need.  Instead, he compounds confusion by telling lies and demonstrating repeatedly an arrogant unwillingness to admit wrong or take responsibility for his words and actions. Who believes that it was perfectly okay for a man to take a drug meant for “aquariums that contain Chloroquine, a drug President Trump recently touted as a treatment for COVID-19 in spite of a lack of study by health officials or approval by the World Health Organization?”

Why aren’t medical experts orchestrating a unified master plan for America against this formidable disease instead of politicians? Where are the CDC leaders? Why aren’t the experts conducting press conferences, calling up the resources, making the right decisions, and providing the proper information instead of having their message vetted by goon squads, suppressed by gag orders, and deep-frozen by wax museum prototypes? Why did the CDC Director recently recant a statement he made challenging the president’s specious claims about the viability of Chloroquine? And why are people like Dr. Bright fired for sharing the truth about the true scientific and medical protocols and procedures for overcoming this disease?

In speaking of the President’s lack of leadership, he should get credit for signing the bill created and passed by Congress supporting the stimulus to American workers and small businesses, but who’s minding the shop when the New York Post reports that 46,000 millionaires each have received checks totaling 1,600,000 dollars? Kudos to Shake Shack for recently returning ten million dollars they weren’t supposed to receive but why was Ruth Crist called out for accepting funds for which they appeared to have qualified? Does this bill have provisions for real estate owners? Does this mean that Trump’s hotel businesses will receive stimulus money? The recent two-trillion dollar stimulus bill should be tightly managed like all other stimulus bills lest those funds are poorly mismanaged by “thieves in high places.” Unless those funds are properly distributed to the rightful and designated recipients, we have another chapter in the ongoing saga of leadership mismanagement adding more fuel to the leadership fires of the Trump administration.

Let’s get real. After three years of zigzag, checkered, haphazard leadership of this great nation, to put it mildly, we are all blind until we see that Donald J. Trump and his henchmen are destroying this country. They are obliterating our Democratic Constitutional Republic and pocketing the change. By scornfully and repeatedly attacking American institutions and the media, by compromising the Department of Justice, selling off public lands to corporations and gutting environmental regulations and protections which ensure clean air, pure drinking water and safe food, and his repeated disdain and beat down of the nation’s poor people, he has repeatedly and willfully put the American people in harm’s way. Furthermore, he has virtually dismantled the State Department, depleted the ranks of foreign and domestic service, and shrunk the full complement of cabinet members mostly to a cult following of willing believers and admirers. He appears to be surrounded by grifters, crooks, and shadowy lawyers who may have lied out of both sides of their mouths by stretching and shredding the truth, particularly during the recent Senate impeachment debacle. There is something terribly mutinous and treacherous about the manner in which this administration has deconstructed the American government and maladroitly conducted the nation’s business.

By making a travesty of the American political tradition, he has degraded the pedigree and lineage of American political statecraft into folly and farce, and helped dissolve the nation into a simmering cauldron of hatred, resentment, vulgarity, and fear. He has brought out mostly the worst in some of us and continues to stoke the fires of our most unspeakable prejudices. If our government can’t protect its people and if states can’t get the aid they need from the federal government to eradicate this deadly disease where can the American people turn for help?

I love my country but I am sometimes incensed at the monumental ignorance, greed and hatred of some so-called leaders who seem more interested in loading their pockets, killing off their own government through corruption, neglect, and abuse and tearing America down than making it stronger for the people and future generations. I respect the office of the President of the United States. I know that Trump is the president and that should be enough, which normally suffices, but come on folks, does the presence of “looking out only for number one,” grab-bag decision-making based not on facts but more on fantasies warrant a pass when the nation is at hell’s doorstep?

Pundits keep saying how the president is and what he does as if to normalize his aberrant behavior. “He’s not breaking laws. He’s just shifting norms,” they say. His shifting of norms has created one helluva mess. But when is the real change going to come where he experiences an epiphany and finally sees the light and has the heart to do what is right for America as opposed to catering to his friends, cronies, family members and worrying about being re-elected?

If true, why does counting potential votes for the next election appear more important than counting the many thousands of Americans gone who have perished from the Corona Virus? We can’t get a real count until we get the test kits and some have said that there have been attempts to suppress the real numbers. As the saying goes do “figures lie and liars figure?” After all these disasters why is the president thinking about re-election? Why doesn’t he just resign? He has already virtually bankrupted the country with his “give you all the world in five-seconds,”meanderings.

America may be the richest nation on earth but it doesn’t mean a hill of beans if so-called leaders seem to be more interested in making profits from equipment and machines than getting devices to the people who are dying in droves. But when you dismantle and deconstruct the government as we know it, you have virtually destroyed if not made dysfunctional the very foundations of American Representative Democracy and our Democratic Constitutional Republic. Beware of politicians who want little or no government which has been and still remains one of the most important bulwarks consolidating and protecting the rule of law, providing disaster relief in crisis and ensuring the rights of the people.

But the issue is not big government versus small government, but good government versus bad government, humane government versus ruthless, reckless, inhumane government. It is certainly not good government versus big business. Good government should be in charge and should lead the way and have the final say with the support of big business and the people. We need good government and good healthy, equitable business practices which value shareholders profits to be sure, but also holds in high regard the needs and health of citizen stakeholders in society who want to be healthy and treated fairly by policies, values and practices which uphold the commons and the long term health and viability of America, the world and global communities.

Yes, America is one of the richest nations on earth, filled with countless caring, loving, generous, empathetic people for sure, but it is also one of the poorest nations on earth, and a hellish one for others, in how it treats certain people, especially the poor, and so-called minorities, immigrants, those with disabilities, women, brown, black, white, red and beige people, and so-called other people. Some of the most spiritually poor people in America are some of the wealthiest people on earth who have everything they need but a caring heart and a vibrant soul. Some of the spiritually richest people on earth are the dirt poor who still have hearts of service because they are still able to feel and identify with the pain of other human beings and are able to extend a helping hand when possible.

Moreover, the president appears to have picked a leadership team mostly of the donor class, along with plundering politicians, and greed merchants of the first order, seeking to privatize all government contracts for themselves while stealing the health care, ripping away food stamps and implementing other policy atrocities which deprive everyday people of life, liberty and the realization of happiness. Politics is ultimately about justice, how it is practiced, preserved and distributed for the betterment of all the people and not corruption which is now running rampantly defiant in such a bold-in your face fashion, people are wondering if America has not already experienced total moral and institutional collapse.

And why all the silence which speaks so loudly? Is silence required when our nation appears to be going into safe rooms and the deep pantries of hell’? Why don’t Republicans open their big mouths and say something to the president? They shout and scream at anything Democrats do or say crying “foul,” or claiming they are “unholy” or “un-American” which are nothing more than the usual stultifying uni-quack talking points given to them by their  political overseers. Mitch McConnell opened his mouth to say that President Obama should “keep his mouth shut” after criticizing Trump.Why doesn’t Mr.McConnell open his mouth to tell the president to shut his mouth when the scientists are talking?

While some politicians may cater to the super-wealthy which Trump has managed to place in key cabinet positions, and are responsible for handling the country’s business, many of them exemplify some of the worst forms of poverty of mind and spirit because they are hardhearted, mean-spirited, and generally ignorant of the areas they have been appointed to lead, and refuse to develop more equitable policies which help more people at least by compromising with opponents. They will stop at nothing to punish the opposition and their supporters because they are completely void of any empathy, charity, or sympathy in doing what is right by all Americans.

Is it true that even in matters where medical equipment have been distributed, red states have been given more than they’ve asked for and blue states have been distributed far less than they’ve needed and requested? Is it true that Mitch McConnell has stated that it might be okay for blue states to go bankrupt during this crises by withholding financial support when blue states like New York and California pay more than their fair share of taxes while red states such as Kentucky and Alabama receive tens of millions of dollars more than they pay into the federal coffers? And what sector of hell does he hail from offering impunity to corporations which are some of the most reprehensible violators of laws which leave our commons vulnerable to everything from toxic waste fall out to noxious fumes and exhaust?

Barbarians appear to be not only at the gates but seem to have gained entry perhaps through Trojan Horse maneuvers disguising themselves as champions of Democracy but revealing themselves as grifters, grafters, political interlopers, and government usurpers.

The issue is leadership. Whatever way we shake this, it all boils down to the lack of good, strong, equitable, creative, resourceful, resilient, compassionate, visionary, morally courageous, racially and gender impartial, justice-seeking, and justice practicing leadership. President Trump and other people he has appointed to his leadership team have failed us. Some political leaders have betrayed us. Drawing from various leaders of Rome, there is a huge difference between the edifying leadership of Augustus and the paralyzing, persecutorial leadership of Nero. There is a difference also between the Book of Life and the Book of Hell and Death.

And what do “liberating” certain states mean? Why are protesters irresponsibly marching on state capitals with no masks or gloves decrying governmental decrees implemented to protect citizens which have already helped stem the tide of this awful disease? Was it the fact that armed gunmen stormed the State House of Michigan to intimidate state representatives into supporting return to work legislation? Some reports intimate their possible deployment by persons in the White House. Is the White House behind the continuing strategies of diverting, dividing and distracting the people by these public displays of selfishness, ignorance and wholesale belligerence? Again, if true such tactics put people in harm’s way.

Now is not the time for distraction, diversion and division among the people which the President seems to advocate by lying, dividing and setting various factions of the American people against each other. This is not leadership. This is organized chaos. Needed is S.W.O.T, which focuses on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, augmented by P. E. S. T, political, economic, social and technical wherewithal to shore up and save the nation by dispatching whatever it needs to peacefully navigate this crisis.

This virus and its deadly assault is a form of hell on earth not only for the victims but their families and has killed over eighty thousand people in America and hundreds of thousands globally. We need leaders who will awaken from their stupor to lead the people out of this living hell instead of adding fuel to its fires. What we need are interpreters in the public arena who will necessarily use harsh words to describe the harsh realities now facing the American people instead of trying to airbrush the president’s actions and minimize his Orwellian political double talk and maneuvering. People are dying from the virus. Health-care workers remain at great risk on the front lines of this disease and have virtually run out of masks and gloves and have had to resort to wearing garbage bags for protection while hospitals are still in short-supply of respirators as their beds fill to capacity and the death toll rises and Corona victims continually cry out desperately for relief. People are now standing in food lines by the thousands with no visible end in sight.

Meanwhile back at the colony, religious zealots spellbound and hell-bound in their rantings against homosexuals and people who appear different or other but are still human beings loved by God, are gleefully expounding lunatic theology showing people the sure way to hell instead of a clear way to heaven. Where is the love? Homosexual people are not responsible for the plagues we now face, but perhaps man’s varying abuses of power through hubris, arrogance, personal and corporate sin, predatory greed, malevolence, and selfishness ranging from climate destruction to other ecological and ethical disasters which are getting worse and have no end, could possibly be the culprits. Where are empathy, compassion, and hope for people suffering in this country? You don’t attack and punish the truth tellers. Faith without good works is dead. Where is the spirit of charity and betterment which helps people and saves the nation rather than this eternal tom-foolery of attacking the victims, perpetually on display, ever beset with hatred and bitterness which divides, deludes, and ultimately seeks the demise of our beloved country?

When the truth is finally told Donald J. Trump’s leadership has been a cataclysmic disaster for America. Where is leadership that knows the way and inspires confidence to the people? Most mature people have experienced their own forms of living hell at some point in their lives. But for the leadership of this nation appearing not to take this deadly and virulent pestilence seriously is an abdication of leadership responsibility reminiscent of the apocalyptic catastrophes of the Bible. God got angry with the people “yes” but became angrier with leaders who failed to lead the people God’s way and out of harm’s way at critical times in a nation’s history. Damn the politics and the “politrics,” we need a referendum on humanity, a 101 class on human decency and how to treat other human beings humanely, during what’s fast becoming “cruel and usual punishment” of countless, helpless Americans.

“A living hell is what it is and no amount of polite words will tell the real story of what Americans are now going through.

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who during times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality,” said Dante.

God help us now. God, please send us more leaders with temerity and boldness who will tell it like it is and call out the demons of division and destruction seeking to destroy our government and country. God, please send us leaders who know the way and can show the way to healing, wholeness, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation and wellness for all Americans, and the world, and not just a select group who presumably and exclusively have God’s favor.

Many of those leaders like Representative Adam Schiff, Democrats and others have already spoken and given heroic service to America by their moral courage in undertaking the impeachment process. They have fought the good fight by impeaching Donald J. Trump but Republicans and their cohorts have looked the other way by failing to remove him from office. Schiff and others warned that if Republicans did not remove the president he would be left to do more damage to this country. Sadly, his warnings have come true with a vengeance.

We are all children of God. We will either live together or perish as fools in this hellish nightmare which has benighted our nation instead of leading it with the true light of God which still compassionately shows the way for all of us and not just some of us.

“Is it true that people in hell may want ice water, but the Devil has no desire to give it to them because they’re in hell and now they have to deal with it?”

Leaders who intentionally go to hell and take their people with them with no plans to lead them out have no business leading. If you want to go to hell personally then go alone. Don’t take people with you.

We must keep praying and working to eliminate these forms of living hell for the people. We  also concur absolutely with the plea of Winston Spencer Churchill who confidently led Great Britain through a time of terrible calamity and crisis:

“Never never, never, never give up!

And, “If you’re going through hell keep going.”


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