As my Grampa Jack used to say, “The world is going to hell in a handbasket.”
That’s how I felt when I woke up to the news of the Hamas attacks on Israel last weekend. It was the same sick feeling when I saw Russian air-strikes hit Ukraine last February. It all seemed to come out of nowhere, but then, there was nothing random about it. Timing is everything. Carefully planned cruelty. War.
The images on my TV screen were incomprehensible. Heartbreaking. The worst of humanity in real time. Watching journalists cover the events, standing in the centre of it all, watching their fellow citizens flee for their lives, while they stand witnessing and reporting the truth to people like me watching from the safety of my home, sipping a coffee and munching on toast in my pyjamas. It’s surreal.
Grampa Jack was right: the world is going to hell in a handbasket, indeed. What a curious expression that is, and yet I understand it to be true.
It’s probably the wrong time to ask what a handbasket is, but humour and distraction are how I cope with overwhelm, so indulge me for a moment. I assume it’s the metal framed basket I carry about at the local grocer, though, honestly, that thing won’t carry the weight of much once you add a bag of milk, chip dip and potato chips, so the expression of the world fitting into such a small vessel on its way to purgatory didn’t make sense.
Imagine my surprise when a quick Google search said the phrase may date back to the 18th century, a time when baskets were used to catch guillotined heads. Um, well, that’s disturbing. I regret that Google search now.
This is how I cope with overwhelm. I find slivers of humour. I distract myself with lighter fare, not because I don’t care, but because I care entirely too much. Watching history repeat itself over and over again is disturbing.
As history bleeds violence into the present, all in the name of securing the future of some over others, it strikes me that these are tales of war and conflict as old as time, and for all my prayers for peace (and I have said many), it feels elusive. Mind you, I still have yet to reconcile that peace is unattainable in some parts of the world because it’s not desired by those in power.
Make it make sense to me.
Nevermind. You can’t. I know.
So for those of you, like me, who watch a news story or read an article and then need to turtle for a few days because the world feels entirely too raw to process the information, this is your friendly reminder that it’s okay to turn off the world. Mute your news feed. Silence your notifications. Not forever. Just until you feel ready to rationalize the irrational again.
I highly recommend you take your senses for a walk outside. Smell the fresh autumn air. Watch the colourful leaves fall from the trees. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Listen. Appreciate the mystery of life all around you. It solves nothing, yet it heals so much.
Peace is yours to behold, if you choose it. Take that back into the world when you’re ready.
But don’t take a handbasket, whatever that is. And don’t lose your humanity, or your humour.
The world needs peace makers.