What follows is a parable about a big ship that was badly commanded and the consequences of the leader’s incompetence. Let it be a warning to us all. For this captain, unlike real ship captains, was elected, chosen for this leadership position by many who were on his ship. He failed them. Those of us who elect give power to those who govern us. And we can take it away. Remember that…

There once was a man, a captain of a ship, who had to deal with a deadly disease that some of his crew had contracted and brought aboard. There was no known cure, though not everyone died who contracted it. Many did, though, especially the elderly. So he had to figure out how to protect the rest of the people on the ship while those sick elderly and possibly dying would not infect the healthy people.

There were some hospital ships nearby that had room, so that would help. He also had some lifeboats that were already out to sea with some older members of the crew who were vulnerable and needed special care, though they had not contracted the deadly disease. No one knows why the captain decided to put the sick elderly people on the boats with the healthy elderly people. He had at his disposal several specialized crafts he had ordered constructed in case such a disease started to spread, seagoing vehicles with medical personnel, who could have worked to heal the sick people, but those remained empty. And the regular hospital ships mentioned earlier had room, but few elderly were sent there until they were too ill to recover.

Instead he directed that all the sick, contagious elderly people be put into those boats with the healthy, elderly crew members where there were no doctors or not enough. They might possibly recover from the disease on their own, (but the healthy, vulnerable crew members were succumbing now to the same dreaded disease). This was his policy and everyone knew it and was abiding by it, for the most part, sadly. Those sick elderly who were sent to hospital ships when they were too sick to be cared for on the other lifeboats had infected others with the illness. Most died. It was a tragedy of epic proportions for this was a really big ship.

To make matters worse, the captain had the capability of broadcasting his decisions and his opinions about how others in the fleet were handling this health crisis and how he was doing it so much better than they. He would boast and belittle, he would joke and many in his audience who were unaffected by all the illness and death would laugh. The captain was made into a sort of folk hero by the town criers and those who read the news of the ships to people who were illiterate or could not be bothered to find out information for themselves, those people who did not have the time or inclination to find the truth. But there were other people on his ship and in the fleet knew who were seething with anger and frustration that the captain’s policies were being enforced and so those poor elderly people were dying in vast numbers.

Why did no one who was relaying the news every day ask about the captain’s policy that was literally killing his crew members? Why was incompetency being portrayed as brilliance? Why was the captain allowed to go about in a jaunty, prideful, some might say ridiculous, fashion for so long without anyone asking him how he could be so callous and so lacking in compassion or common sense? It was as if those who reported on the crisis were enjoying his show so much, they forgot that real human beings were suffering and dying under this captain’s rule.

Yes he was running the show, he was in charge. He was responsible for the well being of these vulnerable old ones. But he was derelict in his duty. Anyone who knows anything about leadership knows he failed them. But the town criers and the others who read the news and shared their opinions with the not terribly inquisitive audience were too busy lauding his performance. Slowly, though, the truth was spoken, the horrific results of his decisions began to see the light of day. The captain, now confused and hurt, as people turned on him when the truth could be hidden no longer because some people who know what leadership is stepped forward and revealed his inadequacies, asked, “Are you not entertained?” For he tried to continue his earlier act that had been so popular and roundly proclaimed as ‘fabulous.’ But it was falling flat with larger portions of the audience who were learning the truth of his decisions.

Are you not entertained?” No, they were not. Many never were. Many were appalled at the behavior of the leader who was no leader at all. He was just a shadow of a man making a lot of noise and showing his lack of humanity and empathy. He revealed to so many, and the number continued to grow, his immense ego and amorality. People had died, many who did not have to, most without a loved one by their bedside, without the medical care they should have had, could have had, if the captain had just used common sense with a touch of compassion. It would have been so simple. But terrible decisions were made. Many in the fleet deduced, sadly, that could only mean that the captain was rather, well, foolish. Which we know is the opposite of wisdom.*

It wasn’t entirely his fault, really. The sycophants around him propped him up and encouraged him. They helped to make him who he was. They should have all been ashamed. They were all in need of prayers for they were so lost and were either unaware of that fact, or else they chose to ignore it. Many who knew better prayed for those who were unmoored from not just from reality, but from what is right and just, from mercy and, yes, from love for their fellow humans and any knowledge of a God who loves them as much as He loves those who died. They prayed the lost would repent and turn away from their destructive ways. Let that be the end of our story. Let us remember to pray for those who are misguided, blinded, lost. May God have mercy on their souls, and may the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

*See Proverbs 18:2

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