Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

Fix What’s Broken And Don’t Break What’s Fixed

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Friends, pardon me, but I am continually amazed and befuddled at the showcase of incompetency and indifference by some political leaders in this country. How they are hurling this country backwards by refusing to fix the myriad problems which are fracturing and breaking our Democratic Constitutional Republic is utterly astounding. Is there a larger more insidious agenda here?

Why do some politicians keep breaking what’s fixed instead of fixing what’s broken in America? Why are some leaders so hell bent on promoting policies benefitting the privileged few instead of all Americans?

Why have Republicans passed the Trump tax bill gutting parts of Affordable Health Care for millions of Americans?

Why aren’t issues of climate change and destruction being properly addressed? Why did president Trump place Scott Pruitt the head of the Environmental Protection Agency whose sole mission seems to increase our dependency on oil and coal rather than developing healthier sustainable energy alternatives? Friends of the Earth report that Pruitt “wants deep cuts to the EPA, has promised the coal industry executives he would form a group to question the merits of climate science and has reversed an Obama-era decision to revoke all uses of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that harms children’s developing brains.”

Why is Secretary of the the Interior Ryan Zinke selling off public lands to coal mining companies?

Why is Trump filling the courts with judicial appointees unqualified to serve?

Why aren’t the constitutional rights of Dreamers (DACA) protected? Why are we breaking their future and denying our citizenship promises to them?

Why are the vital areas of American progress now being shattered more precipitously with policies which destroy the environment, pauperize the poor and middle class, fracture worker’s rights, smash labor unions and harm the well being and livelihood of everyday Americans?

Virtually everything accomplished politically, economically and morally to fix America and make our nation more equitable and just for everyone in the last sixty years is being imperiled by throwback decisions which weaken and breakup the American way of life and dismantle our current system of government.

Such efforts are evidenced by fraudulent attempts at voter suppression, the Russian cyber invasion, rampantly mutating political corruption, repeal of funding for Americans with Disabilities, the attack on Medicare and Social Security to name a few, things which jettison seismic and clandestine shifts of American democracy from the hands of the people into the claws of multinational corporations and their insatiable plutocrats and political bellhops.

Do all the political blame-gaming, demonizing, insulting, attacking and demeaning persons of color, the poor, middle class, immigrants, women, gays, lesbians, transgenders, whites, blacks, Latinos, Arabs, Jews, Indians, Muslims, soldiers and sailors, war veterans, the environment, the disabled and differently abled persons and the “others” reflect a larger strategy to demoralize Americans and tear the nation down forever?

Are what we have here ordered political assaults and chaos and intentional strategies to divide and conquer the people through a silent, incremental takeover of this country at the state, national and local levels the likes of which we have never seen in America?

Gleaning information from Nancy McLean’s Democracy in Chains, Jim Hightower gives the following insight:

“There has been a coup against our national pursuit of the Common Good. This bleak outlook is even recognized as a formal political doctrine:selfish individualism. Basically an ethic of greed this philosophy is being advanced by a plutocratic elite that insists that the role of government is not to promote our common interests and do the will of the majority, but to protect the property (property supremacists) and accumulated wealth of moneyed individuals from the rest of us. They are anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union, anti-majority radicals who militantly declare: “I got mine, good luck getting yours….and don’t even think of touching any of mine.”

There are a cabal of the super rich, right wing families seeking to destroy American democracy as we know it and replace it with a form of feudal Plutocracy. What we seen to essentially have here is the breaking of government by some billionaire families headed by the Koch brothers and Republican politicians with efforts to remake that government exclusively in their own interests and those of the Gilded Class and their silent Corporate partners.

It is true that some tasks in life necessitate breaking things all the way down because they are beyond makeshift, patchwork repair like auto mechanics used to do in the old days when they fixed transmissions and engines. Such repair work allowed them to avoid discarding the entire vehicle. Well some things require a complete overhauling and redoing. And some things need to be junked because they have seen their best days. No matter how much we try to refurbish them they will never work like they once did. Other things simply need maintenance and repair work to get them up and running efficiently.

Some things in America need to be discarded and replaced because they no longer work like policies and practices from the past that harm people, devalue their self-worth and interests and prevent the country from moving forward. Such things cannot be fixed. Other things just simply need to be repaired, shored up, and strengthened to make them work not only efficiently but mo’ better than ever before.

There is a difference between breaking what’s fixed and fixing what’s broken.

You don’t tear down democracy when it simply needs to be repaired or overhauled. You don’t dismantle your country when you have no better alternative with which to replace it, which history reveals usually ends up being more authoritarian, autocratic, despotic, dictatorial, demagogic, kleptocratic and aristocratic forms of government.

So here we are watching this descent into maelstrom-this demolition derby of American democracy- taking place before our very eyes and many Americans are waking up and fighting back.

Jane Mayer says we can begin fixing what’s broken by getting dark money out of politics which has opened the floodgates of political corruption in America.

How about fixing our intellectual, spiritual, moral, fiscal and physical infrastructures and those aspects of government which are severely broken and are in need of mending, refurbishing and overhauling?

Perhaps we should change some rules of governance as well as reform and redo various parts of governmental machinery and apparatus.

How about really believing that we are all in this together working for the Common Good by fixing the soul and character of America by building, embodying and inculcating more dignity, charity, compassion and integrity in our children, adults, workers, public servants and corporations which often deny and omit their moral obligations to help create a more sustainable future and a more just society for all?

How about affirming and living out true respect for all people, which we sorely need in our country so that the venomous hatred which poisons and divides us ceases and desists?

This means strengthening families, building up neighborhoods and communities through gainful enterprise and employment and developing models of progressive and liberal education and not exclusively religious centered education but education which respects, religion, science and objective truth. How about education not just for information but education for positive transformation which will make us all more industrious, innovative, caring and hard working citizens of a nation growing stronger?

Why do bigots keep fuming about exerting more white supremacy when white people rule and black people are not their problem and are not responsible for their current economic or personal disparities and miseries? The truth is whites who feel this way are hurting too. When people are hurting they often hurt and scapegoat others for their pain. It doesn’t make it right. It’s just that people look for others to blame for their pain.  It hurts when you have worked all your life in a small town and suddenly all the factories have closed, your children have all moved away and all you have left are sweet memories of a more idyllic and prosperous past.

Who among us have not found ourselves perplexed about how rapidly things change and how fast time flies? We must constantly re-tool, re-educate and reinvent ourselves. If we are standing still we are losing ground. We will be left behind. One minute you are thirty looking expectantly ahead and the next minute you are sixty looking backwards wondering what happened.

It hurts when some white people scapegoat and blame black people for all their ills and the nation’s woes when the fat cats and some of the people themselves are more responsible for helping to create those negative images and problems. “Don’t believe everything you think!”

We must acknowledge the pain of those who hurt but those who hurt must learn to redirect their anger into constructive action rather than hate filled rebuke toward people who haven’t caused their problems and don’t deserve to be skewered and persecuted.

Black people and other people in America are tired of always being blamed for everything that’s wrong or broken in America. From the beginning of our time here we have diligently worked to make America greater, more just, more caring, more compassionate and truer to its core values, principles and promises. We have always been called on to help fix America’ problems by creating her wealth, building her infrastructures, fighting her wars, shouldering her burdens and by creating labor and time saving inventions for which we never got paid even in slavery when we were doing all the work. Please name for me a group of people in this country other than perhaps first nation peoples who have undergone as much hardship and suffering for so long a time but have still stood by their country through hell and high-water?

Virtually every attempt at advancing themselves from Reconstruction to Affirmative Action have been snatched right from under them. But they are not permanently broken because still they rise.

He or she who has the green backs and legal tender already rule. People are also tired of folks shouting to blacks, Latinos, Muslims and same gender loving folks to leave America and go home when they are already home.

People should stop frothing about black power when white power and white privilege still mostly rule. And yes black lives matter and they have always mattered in America when black bodies were brought here on slave ships and worked America’s plantations and plants and fed the master’s babies and worked the master’s fields. Black lives have always mattered by adding value to this country by paying their dues and some, and making America what is has promised and still works to become. Stop opining about black lives matter. Black lives have always mattered in the history of America and black lives still matter today. Black people have helped to build and sustain America and are not ashamed of the contributions they have made to make America greater! White and other lives matter too!

Please stop using the phrase “identity politics” as if something is wrong with it or black people exclusively created it. Ever since the beginning of America a form of identity politics has been in existence.

Furthermore, in a nation where justice, compassion and empathy and some religious institutions have become corrupt repositories, fractured religious reflections and broken cisterns of worldly abuses of power, we need honest and caring people; people who understand what’s really needed to heal this nation, bind its wounds and build it up to make it stronger and more resilient by bringing people together, staking our common ground and forging a common future together.

Handing our country over to uncaring, insensitive, greedy oligarchs, foreign enemies and politicians or even religionists or racists with one track minds who care nothing about their country but only their party or their cult of believers or their profits or their donors is not fixing America but fracturing, dividing and breaking it up even more.

You don’t build and rule a democratic nation that way. You can’t even rule yourself that way! Imagine me talking to myself and answering myself all time and not talking to my friends or parishioners or adversaries or the people I am supposed to be talking with or representing. Imagine me not talking to people who can help make our world better with all of us together. I can’t get anywhere just talking to and answering myself!

One of my dearest professors once stated that we all need each other and people who must think twice about being in the world are generally more creative and resourceful and open to new ideas and new forms of thinking.

You have to talk to somebody whose ideas are different than your own and you might enhance or create a synthesis of ideas through conversation and compromise beneficial to all. It’s not the principle of contradiction but the principle of complementarity that makes the difference.

Autocratic rule and reasoning is part of why we are in this mess. One political party does not fix America but as Republicans have recently showcased through their unilateral decision-making, it shatters and further corrupts the whole political process and polarizes the nation with its “my way or the highway, all or nothing” politics. We don’t want government by the few and greedy but government of the people, for the people, by the people who protect the rights of the needy and the greedy for that matter.

We don’t need or want authoritarian, dictatorial, demagogic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic leadership with draconian policies which starve and kill the poor and chronically tells lies on them, deports its citizens, placate and overfeed the morbidly rich and breaks the backs of the people and the nation, which derails our Constitutional Republic and dead ends democracy. We don’t want policies which break our future!

Freedom means responsibility. Yes, it is the freedom to make money but also the freedom to help ensure the safety and stability of society which has granted the privilege of making money and we must aid that society in its growth and development.

Anarchic corruption and the abuse of power are breaking us. Predatory greed and Corporate Capitalism are breaking us. Thoughtless, greedy, selfish oligarchs and their minion, sycophant politicians are trying to break us.  Fear has broken us and makes us more suspicious and wary of each other. Racism, resentment and me-only selfishness have broken us. Extreme inflammatory partisan-tribal politics has declared war on us and broken us. Discrimination and hatred have broken us. Political treachery and evil normalized are breaking us.

We are breaking further apart, into internecine, self-devouring camps; shattered into a million tiny pieces, pulverized by political insanity, bigotry, resentment and a diabolical descent into the abyss of calamity. We need strong, inclusive, moral leadership. Leaders who are aware of our clear and present dangers, leaders who care about all of the people all of the time and not just some of the people all of the time.

There are some who feel that if they can’t have their way by running the country into the ground and issuing their imperial edicts by telling everybody what to do, what to think, how to look and act and feel which means subscribing only to their terrible, debilitating and constrictive nearsightedness, to put it mildly, with little or no appreciation or even toleration for prudently alternative ways of seeing and being in the world then some will not let us have America except by way of the disparities and miseries they dole out to us. If they can’t have their way by taking America back and remolding it the way they want it to be which is only for them and nobody else, it means that America loses the value and power of human freedom, diversity and its true identity and power which are the seed beds and bed rocks of democracy.

Many things in this country are broken and need to be fixed. Many other things in this country have been broken and were on the way to being fixed by steady, incremental progress which moved the country forward, but do not now need to be repealed, broken and destroyed.

This is the sad fact in our country today. We love our country and we want to become a better country for everybody! We still love America and we want it to work for everyone.

Some leaders are like bulls in china cabinets. Other leaders take their china cabinets with them wherever they go. Whenever and where ever they travel and whenever they open their mouths trying to say something worth saying and take action, there is a trail of broken glass every where because they are addicted to breaking things. If they can’t have their way they break everybody and everything in their way. Everything they do by way of thought and action is about breaking things up, tearing things down, destroying what is good. They are never satisfied with putting things together by mending the breaches and the breakages. Their mission is to kill, steal and destroy!

Some thoughtful verses of W.B. Yeats Leaders of the Crowd are pertinent here:

“They must to keep their certainty accuse,

All that are different of a base intent;

Pull down established honor; hawk for news

Whatever their loose fantasy invent “

Such breaking wastes precious time, squanders enormous material, political, economic and human resources and means that somebody’s got to clean up the mess. We are living in an insidious death desiring; death eligible and violent death propagating culture in America where children are gunned down in their schools but politicians won’t act to support and enact laws which will protect the people because they are afraid of incensing some of their enormously strong political contributors such as the NRA.

We need a great awakening and transformation. Rules and guidelines must be strengthened to protect the people.When you cannot go to an elementary school, middle school, high school, college or university without fear of being shot dead. When you cannot go to a movie theater, a dance hall, a night club, a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or a concert “hall” without being slaughtered in cold blood; when you cannot go to the store or safely walk down the street without being beat down and bullied it means that our country is being torn apart and broken.

When you have a person in the highest office in the land speaking ill of the people he is called to serve and trashing the very institutions which historically have safeguarded our nation; a person who publicly sets an insidious tone and stokes the fires of hatred, bigotry and injustice, it means the moral core, moral center and moral fabric by which all things hold together in our country are being broken and torn apart. The center can hold with the right people using the right stuff to hold it together. When the Chief Executive Officer denounces his own country and some segments of its people, “Houston” we have more than a problem.

When people are murdered in traditional places and sanctuaries where they once enjoyed safety and freedom from mayhem and harm, the nation is shattering and breaking; which means the end of innocence has come which can lead to the death of a nation, the death of democracy and the death of freedom if gone unchecked, unattended and unfixed.

I am not a pessimist. I am an optimist. I am a person of color who believes in faith and freedom. Not all things can be fixed but many things can be fixed or repaired if we have a mind and will to work together to fix them.

Some would prefer saying that many things in our nation are “fractured but not broken.” As a realist I can see that some things are broken which beg our fixing and some things are not broken that need to be strengthened which also beg our continued efforts at firming them up and sustaining them like the right to raise our children in peace and the right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, the right to health care and the right to vote and make a living wage.

Many things are broken in America which threaten to break completely our democracy but I must say they have not broken the people completely because the minds, wills, hearts, souls and spirits of the people have not been completely broken. When you break a person’s spirit, you break that person. But as Americans and children of God our spirits are not broken!

The things that are breaking up America have not broken the will or the spirit of some of the people determined to fix and repair what’s being torn apart. Some people are broken but not broken completely. Neither their pride nor their will or their faith have been completely torn to shreds!  They still have the power to fix what is broken in America if we all come together it can be done!

How then do we abide leaders who are relentlessly attacking, undermining political processes and destroying our country before our very eyes or refusing to enact laws which protect our children and our most valuable resources? How do we abide leaders who are summarily determined not to move an inch on certain issues or do not take seriously the safety of all Americans and thereby dismiss the current outbreaks of madness as just passing, needless fancies and follies?

How do we abide short-sighted, uncompromising, small-minded, hateful, ill-equipped and woefully ill-informed people and so-called leaders who seek nothing more than to destroy everything of value in America instead of creating lasting value for all Americans?

We cannot abide them. If after talking, pleading, praying, and petitioning them and working desperately and fervently to get them to see the light; if nothing changes they must be voted out of office so the nation can get more compassionate, caring, progressive and even open-minded conservative leaders to make good decisions for all Americans.

The Dalai Lama reminds us that “Compassion is the new radicalism.”

This means enlisting and supporting leaders determined to fix what is broken and not break what has already been fixed. This calls for leaders who are willing to work across the aisle for the good of all Americans and not leaders hell-bent on taking it all away and tearing it all down to satisfy their personal  blood urges for revenge, resentment, retaliation, absolute power and control and hatred because they are outraged by the changing colors and fortunes of America.

You can’t fix America by taking it back to yesterday. You fix it by mastering the lessons of the past, by not breaking but strengthening even more what has already worked. You fix it by not destroying democracy and freedom but by protecting the rights of all citizens. “You don’t throw out the baby with the bath water!”

Moreover, we don’t ignore or become filled with hate for such leaders. We do not become the evil we seek to change and remove.  As people of compassion and concern, we challenge them, we pray for them but work like ants and keep working until it is reasonably but never will be perfectly well with all Americans. We must pray for our country and our president and all America’s leaders but prayer must be followed with vigorous thought provoking and constructive, positive action. Our leaders are still human beings, but we hold them accountable for their policies, their inaction, ineptitude and indifference which make them impervious to the problems and pains still hurting our country and its people.

Still there are voices of freedom and power, voices of truth and justice, voices of compassion and empathy. We need leaders with physical and moral courage, leaders with backbones instead not just jaw bones, funny bones or wish bones.

Without sounding too partial, it seems that true leaders who really care about all America appear to be mostly Democrats and members of other political parties but can also be Republicans; the moderates and progressives and some true conservatives who while preserving some traditions still deep down inside believe in moving America forward.

We need to hear from them. We need to hear from you.

Some are already working to prevent the continuing malaise and demise of our nation. But some are still idly silent and still, watching it all come tumbling down, allowing perhaps the greatest Democracy in the history of the world to fall into the hands of people who don’t really give a tinkers damn about America or her people but only themselves.

That’s part of the reason that we are in this broken mess so let’s fix what is truly broken rather than breaking even more what is already breaking down.

And while all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Humpty back together again, the people of America who still love and cherish America and are willing to work to fix and rebuild America certainly can.

Yes we will and yes we can!

To paraphrase the slogan of an organization created by the inimitable Jim Brown to stop gang violence in America, which has worked to build bridges among warring groups, the word is ” “Amer-I- Can.” Yes! “Amer-we- can!

Onward and upward America!



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