Doing the world a world of good

Can one person change the course of life for millions of others?


We have Putin as our most conspicuous contemporary example.

Just a few moments ago in our elastic present-day concept of time here at home, we had the hotel magnate, Trump, as our elected leader, influencing our daily lives like a twin Putin autocrat.

Thanks to that very same hotelier, we now have Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett firmly ensconced on our Highest Court, pretending to be impartial, damaging lives left, right and center.

So let me reframe the question.

Can one person change the course of life for the good of millions of others?

Right away, all of the above are disqualified.

Putin, apparently whimsically – and just because as a simple Russian bureaucrat elevated to the highest post of his land well beyond his abilities – misunderstood the zeitgeist and ordered Russian troops to invade and decimate neighboring Ukraine. Unwittingly, he relegated Russia to minor player status on the world stage going forward.

His US counterpart, Trump, tried to upend the real world here at home and declare his opponent’s election invalid. Unlike in Nicaragua, where a Trump think-alike, Ortega, has been able to maintain and enhance his power through manipulating elections since 1979, Trump failed to falsify Biden’s Presidential triumph. At least for now. Fingers crossed.

There are now six Catholic justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 out of 9. That might be par for the course in Italy or France; not here in the United States. Immigration from largely Catholic Latin America has given us a Catholic population in our 50 states of about 20%. Yet according to the Pew Research Center, we identify ourselves as a country predominently Protestant, 43%, unaffiliated, 26% and Jewish, 2%. Six Catholics on the highest Court of the land is way out of proportion to our religous identity as a nation.

Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, the most recent Catholic arrivals to the Supreme Court, gave us ample reason to doubt their true personas in their Congressional hearings. A psychology professor, Christine Blasey Ford, accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault years before. Our elected Republican senators shut their ears. They voted him in anyway. OK, they seemed to say, Boys will be boys. They were fast to overlook the implications of his traditional conservative Catholicism, or perhaps eager to espouse it.

In 2020, the Washington Post reported that, while in law school, Coney Barrett

lived at the South Bend home of People of Praise’s influential co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, who together helped establish the group’s male-dominated hierarchy and view of gender roles.

In June of this year, London’s Guardian had this to say on the very same People of Praise co-founder:

… the People of Praise, a secretive charismatic Christian group that counts the supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett as a member, was described in a sworn affidavit filed in the 1990s as exerting almost total control over one of the group’s female members, including making all decisions about her finances and dating relationships.

Were our elected Republican senators interested in any of this? Did they care? Not at all. Coney Barret was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice on Oct 26, 2020 with 52 of 53 Republicans voting in favor. Maine’s Susan Collins was the sole dissenting Republican.

Could we now, just possibly, be seeing People of Praise influencing a Supreme Court decision on abortion? Yes, we could.

You are totally within your rights to shout out loud about that right now. As Marcellus once said in in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Back to the original question.

Can one person change the course of life for the good of millions of others?

Lest we forget, the answer is yes, yes and yes again.

There are still some Americans who might fit the bill. Franklin D. Roosevelt comes to mind. How about our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln? Or our 44th, Barack Obama?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd President, was elected to the office four times, something no longer possible. He led us through the Great Depression and World War 2. He launched the New Deal, a transformation of American society that included the creation of the Social Security Administration, which today continues to provide essential daily benefits for more than 70 million Americans.

Abraham Lincoln was our President during our first and only – up to now – Civil War. Not only did he preserve our Union – an achievement that continues to reverberate for all 330 million + of us living in the United States today, but he also just happens to be the President who abolished slavery. At the time, the ending of slavery immediately affected the lives of four million African-Americans living in servitude. Since then, the abolition of slavery has daily touched the lives of millions and millions of others, as a constant reminder of our need, and necessity, to acknowledge and embrace each other, and to celebrate our similarities and differences.

So how many lives did Abraham Lincoln impact for the good? The number in incalculable and uncountable.

Oh and by the way, Abraham Lincoln was something called a moderate Republican, a species now apparently extinct.

Barack Obama served as our President from 2009 to 2017. In our lifetime, we have been witness to Obama’s supreme gift to our nation, the establishment of Obamacare. Thanks to Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that we have:

35 Million People enrolled in Coverage Related to the Affordable Care Act, with a historic number of 21 Million people enrolled in Medicaid Expansion Coverage.

In terms of doing good for the greater benefit of society, that counts.

It would seem that we are in a constant back-and-forth between those who want to do good to the benefit of all of us alive on earth, and those who are equipped with an aberrant gene that is programmed to do us harm.

Unfortunately for those of us living in the United States today, we are confronted with, and confounded by, a hotelier equipped with the aberrant gene, a hotelier who would seem to be planning further assaults on our democracy.

See fingers crossed above.

Our DT, our Wizard of Doom to democracy, is still with us.

At any moment, he could rise from the ashes.  At any moment, he could still consume us, devour us, and swallow our collective notion of peaceful coexistence in one night-sweat gulp.