Horn of Africa

To Hell In A Handbasket

on August 9, 2011

This saying was one of my grandmother’s favorites. Lillian Lyle Stonehouse Bates was born outside London during WWI, and traveled to America by boat at the age of 12. Alone. She lived with a hateful aunt through her teens and lost 2 babies, each of whom took a piece of her heart with them. She survived the Depression, three more wars, and got stuck taking in a family of five (that would be my family) who eventually cost her everything, including the house my grandfather built.

To put it mildly, this woman’s life was not easy.

She never graduated high school, endured violence in her marriage, and battled alcoholism late in life. She was smarter than she let on, took shit from no one, maintained a spotless house, and was the light of my life.

My point in describing my grandmother’s life is to contrast hers against my own. We didn’t have much, but I grew up in a safe neighborhood, with a sturdy roof over my head (thanks, Pappap) and plenty to eat. I also received an excellent private education. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid foundation, and for years I’ve known my life was infinitely better than the one my grandmother endured.

But I’m getting worried. I have a friend who calls me Pollyanna because I’m one of those annoyingly positive people. The sun will come out and things will get better and worrying about things you can’t control will get you nowhere. But I made the mistake of watching the news tonight, and now Pollyanna is in the fetal position, rocking to and fro, mumbling incoherently.

In my nearly 40 years, I cannot recall a time when so much of the world was crumbling around us. The economy of the US and the world at large is being shredded by greed, corruption, and ignorance. Our soldiers are losing their limbs and their lives, and I have no idea why they are even in harm’s way. Young people in first world nations are rioting while the youth of poor, long-oppressed nations are rising up to demand and fight for their freedoms.

And then there is the famine. Children are dying in the desert, left where they fall because their mothers don’t have the strength to carry or bury them. All while heartless men ignore the senseless dying and live like uncivilized dogs in a failed state. Add in the planet’s repeated attempts to cough us off her back, and it’s no wonder Polly is looking for medication or liquor or both.

I don’t know how to bring Polly back. I don’t know how to process watching my retirement, my country, my planet, and my fellow human beings go to hell in a handbasket.

In an effort to do something, I’m including links at the bottom of this blog where you can lend a hand to those suffering around the world. Right now, feeling as if my five dollars is actually making a difference is not easy. But since I can’t hop on a plane and feed the hungry, or drive up to Washington and smash some head, or bring our men and women home so not one more child has to grow up without a mommy or daddy, this is all I can do.

I hope Pollyanna comes back soon because I don’t want to write another blog this depressing ever again. I hope Mother Earth finds her balance, sense prevails over ignorance, and good really does triumph over evil. And I send up a little prayer to the powers that be that this all happens before my daughter’s life resembles my grandmother’s instead of mine.


Habitat For Humanity

Heifer International

Midwife Assist Organization

American Red Cross

World Health Organization

Navy SEAL Foundation

AmeriCares Disaster Relief & Humanitarian Aid

If you know of or work with another organization helping those around the world, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Also visit Limecello’s blog where a movement to use social media to create social change is going on to benefit those suffering in the Horn of Africa.