Tuesday, 10 October 2017

When the news feels too scary...

Sometimes you watch the news or read something in the paper and your spirit plummets. 

The world seems beyond redemption. 

Your mind spins as you struggle to make sense of it all.

Are you really a member of this species who so readily seek out hatred; who appear to savour the horrors of war?

As a news junkie I’ve adopted ways of protecting myself from what I call ‘nadir moments’, so before you drop down a canyon of personal despair, seek comfort in this guide to dealing with hate.

The last story that affected me badly was concerned with a fairly unsensational man. UK LibDem politician Vince Cable is remarkable only in that he’s become his party’s leader at 74.

I have no reason to disbelieve his recent revelations that as Business Secretary during the Tory-LibDem coalition government, he saw up to nine studies that showed:

“… that immigration had very little impact on wages or employment, but this was suppressed by the Home Office under Theresa May, because the results were inconvenient.”

Even now I feel a stab of fury: an inconvenient truth, suppressed by a Tory who is now Prime Minister, because she knew better than to care about mere facts. 

May knew well that immigration was boosting the UK economy, because along with cohorts of business leaders, The Institute for Fiscal Studies had advised her that the UK’s migrant workforce was actually creating jobs for UK workers.

Yet instead she sat on all those reports, because people don’t want to hear that immigration helps. They want someone to blame. They need to hear talk of controlling borders, and so the hate continues.

My heart sinks through the floor as I wonder who the hell we are. Do facts now play no part in the machinery of democracy? 

There’s nothing new in politicians saying what they know people want to hear, but don’t we want to hear the truth? Are we fearful of the truth?

People wash their hands by talking of post-truth eras and alternative facts, while their bigoted beliefs are bolstered by a bombardment of lies on social media. 

Populists appear to fill the void left by empirical truth, claiming to represent the voices of the unheard, perpetuating lies believed by the great misled.  

That’s when you end up with Alternative für Deutschland winning over 90 seats in the Bundestag.

They claim that Islam does not belong in Germany.

As a Jew I find such absolutism plain terrifying.

As a human being, I despise this whole paradigm of politicians stoking racial hatred to gain power, placating the people their redundant systems have so sadly failed and

and oh god 
and oh no 
and oh there's no hope for us, so eager to seek division and conflict 
and all of a sudden I’m there, in the bad place, where it all feels too much.

Taking a deep breath I exhale slowly, climb into my car and drive over to the east side of Galway City, where I can sit and have a cuppa with Whispering Blue.

My friend has a brain the size of a planet. He knows so much that somehow, each time I hit the fear zone, he puts everything back into perspective. By the second cuppa we’re talking about whether Pep can play Sergio Agüero alongside Gabriel Jesus.


When I worry about nuclear war with North Korea, I go for a walk up the bohreen and stare at the long golden grasses that fringe the edge of the bog, waving in the stiff Autumnal breeze. I wait until I feel comfortably calm, happy to accept I'm unable to influence that situation.

When my anger erupts over the way successive governments have awarded themselves (and all of Ireland’s bigwigs) disgustingly vast and decadent pensions, while spending on the homeless crisis has shrunk beyond belief, I give to the Simon Community, so that I can feel truly dissociated from their rampant greed.

When my brain turns into mental spaghetti as I try to work out who is more dangerous - a clever populist like Johnson or a dumb demagogue like Trump - I pull myself back from the brink by heading to one of the West of Ireland’s myriad white sand beaches, where I sit on a rock, watching the tide ease out. 

As my fury rises at the injustice of Direct Provision and the nauseating hypocrisy of Irish governmental attitudes to immigrants, I grab Lady Dog’s rope toy and we have a game of Grr and Pull.

When I worry about Climate Change I walk the Prom, reassured by the familiarity of what still is, rather than agonising over what might be lost.

Instead of upsetting myself over the future of humanity, I hug my wife until she can hardly breathe, feeling the wonderful oneness and unique intimacy of such an embrace.

When life as a whole goes horribly wrong, I head to my hills, the Twelve Pins, because in my personal experience, there is no spiritual ailment that Connemara cannot cure.

It’s our duty as humans to know what makes us feel better. Of course everyone has different ways of surviving the horrors of the world. It’d be plain weird if you turned up for tea at Whispering Blue’s gaff.

Whether you go to the cinema with your kids, share coffee on Quay Street with friends or row a boat across a lake on your own, you must remind yourself that in contrast to most of the world out there, your life here in this corrupt tiny republic is pretty bloody marvellous.

Don’t feel smug: appreciate it, and if you value your personal safety, stay away if you see me on a beach.

© Charlie Adley

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