If you don’t deal with a crisis…

There is a hard lesson for people in leadership positions, that should not be this hard to understand. If you don’t deal with a crisis, it has a predictable habit of biting you in the rear-end.

The first and foremost lesson in addressing a crisis is to tell people the truth. Only then, can you enlist their understanding and help.

The second key lesson is to show sincere empathy for what people are going through. If they detect insincerity or a self-serving mindset, you will lose their trust.

The third lesson is to do what you can to help people or lessen the dilemma. Do not make matters worse. Not unlike the Hippocratic Oath, a leader should “do no harm.”

Having said these three lessons, it should not be a surprise that Messers. Bolsonaro, Johnson and Trump have failed miserably to address the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice crises facing Brazil, United Kingdom and United States.

Jair Bolsonaro has lied to Brazilians from the outset on COVID-19. Several health ministers have resigned because of his ham-handling of the pandemic. And, his country has long had poverty and racial tensions, which go unaddressed.

Boris Johnson was supposedly sitting pretty as the New Year rang in. Yet, not taking the pandemic seriously, he risked not only his health, but others. Now, he is facing backlash from some in his own psrty. Plus, he has been slow to address the racial protests which have hastened with the American police killings.

In the US, Donald Trump also naysayed and downplayed the pandemic even after being apprised of the risk. He continues his misinformation and has put people at risk by pressuring reopening and placing his own followers at risk with scheduled events.

Further, the president’s racist bent has further divided America and he adds fuel to the flames by being tone deaf to the protests.

The similarities of these three men precede their mishandling of these crises. Each are known for being untruthful, populists, and self-centeredness. Bolsonaro is even referred to as the Brazilian Trump. And, like Johnson, Bolsonaro has heightened risk by not following social distancing. And, like Trump, he has embraced a possible cure before it was proven, which remains so.

All three have failed in addresses these crises. Trump ridicules Brazil for its pandemic response, but the US numbers are far worse. Yet, each is doing their best Wizard of Oz impersonation saying “don’t look behind the curtain.” What they fail to realize, even a curtain cannot hide their mistakes.

10 thoughts on “If you don’t deal with a crisis…

  1. An excellent eloquently written post! In Hannah Arendt’s 1972 book “Crises of the Republic : Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution”, which I recently reread, she wrote something that I jotted down as it seemed to have relevance regarding the current occupant of the White House. “The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide.” Truth and trump are never found on the same page and his deceptions are flimsy curtains at best. Thank-you!

    • Ellen, well said. An old friend likes to say, “Always tell the truth. You don’t have to remember as much.” The White House occupant lies so often, he has trouble remembering some of the lies.

      Just think how differently he would be viewed if he dealt with crises early on. He could have said, “Let’s understand why Colin Kaepernick is kneeling and learn from it,” instead of making it a wedge issue. He could have said in January, “The coronavirus is not here yet, but it will be, so let’s plan ahead. I will ask Congress, governors and hospitals to assess needs and do things now rather than later.”

      He craves positive feedback, but hinders his efforts by appeasing a narrow few and then lying about what he has done.


  2. Johnson constructed his cabinet with one intention, deliver Brexit. He became leader for the same reason and thanks to the incompetency of the Labour Party has the largest conservative majority in many a decade.
    He and his team were thus completely thus solely on Brexit and allied issues and quite incapable of reacting swiftly and effectively to any other crisis.
    I was sure there would be a reckoning but due to the Laws of Unintended Consequences following the slaughter of another Black American many people in the UK found a cause to focus they intense dislike of Trump on.
    This in turn has morphed into a lashing out at slavery and perceived symbols of slavery which means the majority of prominent figures born around the turn of the 19/20th centuries whose families were wealthy becomes a target. This is turn means an attacking of British (or English, who cares) icons such as Churchill, Nelson and various historical figures folk have little knowledge of. Naturally this annoys a lot of folk who treasure such as Churchill etc, which favours Johnson and his crew because they will claim to be the heirs of Churchill as it were and thus they will garner support they are not deserving of.
    What might have been a passionate, supportive and dignified cause is turning into a war of mirror images of anger, accusation, counter-accusation, stultifying ignorance and of course fashionable posing (there are always those folk around)

    • Roger, thanks for the context and color commentary. Boris is a more eloquent version of Trump. Jair is very similar in style, with the lying, bullying, corruption and chaos. Too many issues, like Brexit are framed in a binary way, but they are more complex than that. Like Trump, the Brexiters kept it simple and the young folks decided they did not need to vote. So, Brexit and Trump happened and the young folks went to the streets to complain. They complained at the wrong time.

      Trump is trying to execute the same strategy off fear and getting young folks to stay home. Hopefully, Americans will turn out and vote the person out of office. Brexit still breaks my heart as I see a tough road for you guys. But, COVID-19 will linger on and overshadow other problems. As for Brazil, they are in a heap of hurt which will only get worse. Sadly, they have a Trump-like person in charge, which is not a good thing.


      • Brazil is not going to end well, too big, too volatile and some who just sounds off.
        Johnson is a very British creation, but essentially something of a weak fellow intent on staying at Number 10. Whereas Trump will rely upon his 50,000,000 and their favourite media shows Johnson is likely to do anything to keep his job, so watch this space.

  3. Excellent summation of all three leaders, Keith. I would add one more similarity of Trump and Bolsonaro (I think Johnson gets a pass on this one) and that is their quickness to use military force against their own people.

    • Jill,good point. I just noted to Roger that Brazil is in heap of hurt, as are we, and both countries have ego-maniacal, bullies in charge. I fear both countries COVID-19 disasters will only get worse. I have no confidence in either president to remedy the matter and both have made situations worse. Keith

      • Agreed … neither country has a leader at all … our death toll is likely to double by the end of the year, if not triple. Brazil’s too. The UK has almost the highest per capita number of deaths. All because of poor … or nonexistent … leadership.

  4. Note to Readers: These three people in leadership positions require others to lie for them to provide air cover. Trump has many sycophants, but one that is doing some heavy lifting is his vice president. Pence is telling folks how COVID-19 is on the decline in the US, but that is at odds with increases that are occurring.

    As an example, the following is a paragraph from Reuters today:

    “Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma all reported record increases in new cases on Tuesday after recording all-time highs last week. Nevada also reported its highest single-day tally of new cases on Tuesday, up from a previous high on May 23.”

    It should be noted Oklahoma will be hosting Trump’s pep rally in a few days.

    A second Reuters article noted:

    “New cases of COVID-19 nearly doubled in Alabama and South Carolina in the second week of June compared to the prior seven days, a Reuters analysis found, as 17 U.S. states reported weekly increases in the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Alabama’s new cases rose 97% to 5,115 for the week ended June 14, with 14% of COVID-19 tests coming back positive compared to 6% in the prior week, according to the analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

    New cases in South Carolina rose 86% to 4,509, while the positive test rate rose to about 14% from 9% over the same period, according to the analysis and state data.”

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