Category Archives: Uncategorized

Jesus re the death penalty…


Why must we wait

Why must we wait
Until our bloodstreams merge
On sidewalks and pavements
In hallways and classrooms
In the streets of pulverized cities
To see that all thse streams are the same

Why can we only flow together
Into puddles and gutters
Spattered across walls
Soaked into clothing
Filling up bathtubs
Circling the drains of tiled rooms

Why must we be shattered
Before we can be swept up together
Why must we decay
In the unmarked mass grave
Before we can greet the sun
As fields of flowers

A hosteler’s prayer

A hosteler’s prayer

I would speak to the One Who Listens
I would speak the Ones Who Bring Things About
I would speak to those who have brought me here

In the quiet moments of this morning
I have awakened in this room full of strangers
Whose tongues I do not know
Whose stories I have not heard
Whose hearts I have not seen

I ask that we may become friends
I ask that we may help each other
I ask that we may learn from each other
I ask that we may delight in our differences
And hold fast to our common bondsYy–YYYy

Like me, they are all on a journey
Some of them are fleeing great pain and unspeakable loss
I ask that they find comfort
I ask that their wounds be healed

Some of them are seeking adventure and discovery
I ask that they be safe
I ask that they find joy and awe and wonder
In the world you have set before us

Some of them are in search of knowledge and wisdom
I ask that they find what feeds their minds
I ask that their souls be nourished

Some of them are here… just to be here
I ask that this place will enrich their spirits
And that their spirits will enrich this place

Some of them are here because they are tired and worn
From the weight of their work in the world
I ask that they be refreshed, that they should find new strength
I ask that their burdens be lightened

Some are looking for work
To find their calling, their way in the world
To support their families, to make their contributions
That only they can make
I ask that they find the doors of opportunity open
I ask that they find their paths clear
I ask that they find satisfaction and fulfillment in their labors

Some are searching for love or companionship
To fill that gap in their lives, the hole in their hearts
I ask that their loneliness should end
Whether by the touch of another caring heart
Or the discovery of the strength of solitude

Whatever our journeys may be
I ask we may have the health and the strength
The wisdom, the vision, and the courage
To take each next step

I thank you for this place where I have slept
Bless those who have made it possible
Bless those who keep it running
Bless those who keep it clean

Bless the next head that rests upon this pillow
Bless the next heart that finds its rest here
Bless the next body that walks through these do

Here for You

Here for You
By Blind Peanut Nicholson

I can lend you an ear
I can give you a hand
I can offer a shoulder
That understands

We can share our minds
We can share our hearts
We can share our arms
Perhaps other parts

I can dry your tears
I can cover your back
Take whatever you need
If there’s something you lack

From my head to my toe
Whatever I can do
I want you to know
That I’m here for you

The Peace and Justice Files: KIDS THESE DAYS

(“Peace and Justice Files” columnist Skip Mendler fled the US on January 19, and is now working with a refugee assistance group near Belgrade, Serbia.)

How many times recently have you heard someone say, or seen a post on social media, something like this?

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, sit indecently, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Sound familiar?

It should – it’s attributed to Socrates.

Seems that dissing the younger generation as being lazy good-for-nothings has been a hobby for grumpy old folks for a long, long time. “In my day…we respected our elders, we did what we were told…”

No, you didn’t.

You were just as much a mixture of delightful angel and pain-in-the-butt snotnose as I or anyone else was. You’ve just forgotten.

And the world back then was not as trouble-free as you seem to remember it being. We were just ignorant.

In fact, let me suggest that the very first time you hear a phrase like “what is wrong with kids these days” pass your lips, you should immediately make a note to have yourself checked for the onset of senile dementia. It’s a sure sign that your brain is starting to calcify.

For the last several months, it has been my privilege and pleasure to meet, hang out with, and get to know some truly phenomenal young people. They are knowledgeable about the world and connected to it in ways that are unimaginable to those of us who maybe perhaps had a foreign “pen pal“ or two or grew up watching the occasional travel documentary on PBS.

Emilia (not her real name) and her partner Helga (ditto) and I were talking recently here in Belgrade – I was interested in knowing where their activism and engagement had come from. Was it a product of education, of familial values, of religious belief, of watching the news? Emilia spoke instead of how travel had given her the opportunity to meet and interact with people from other countries. “After a while,” she said, in a phrase that struck me deeply, “every country has a face.” An earthquake in Peru, say, is no longer just some remote geological event – it happens 20 kilometers from the home of your friend Maria, whom you met on a hiking trip in Vermont, and with whom you stay in touch on Instagram.

Other volunteers here have told me similar stories. Sometimes thhad the money, sometimes they worked for it, sometimes they found their way one step at a time, but the ability to personally witness other parts of the world, and see our fellow humans as just that – humans – has done something to their hearts and souls, something that I think needs to happen to as many people as possible.

So next time you see one of these newspaper opinion pieces about all the problems with Millennials, take it with a good-sized portion of salt – and if you are a Millennial, don’t let anyone else try to tell you who you really are.


(“Peace and Justice Files” columnist Skip Mendler left the USA on January 19, and is now in Belgrade, Serbia, helping with refugee assistance.)

First off, I’d like to thank the folks who responded to last month’s survey request, regarding how well we as a nation are fulfilling the goals set forth by the Founders in the Preamble to the Constitution. I could use a few more responses, though. Please stop by and let me know what you think. (So far, the results are not exactly encouraging…)

Now then:

Through a very useful website called, I found out about a fairly new NGO called BelgrAID, based in the Serbian capital city of Belgrade (also called Beograd, depending on your language). These folks cook nutritious daily meals for a group of refugees from various countries, about 800-1000 young men who are housed in a former Yugoslav army base in the nearby city of Obrenovac. They also provide help to other vulnerable communities here in Belgrade, and transport personal care supplies to various camps across Serbia.

They. Are. Amazing.

I find myself among an ever-changing gaggle of a couple of dozen competent, energetic, idealistic, practical, and motivated young people, from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, America, and other countries. (A group of awesome Portuguese Girl Scouts came through recently from Lisbon.) German, Spanish, English, Italian, and other tongues fill the air. There are also a handful of neighborhood dogs that we have adopted – or rather who have adopted us – and who provide amusement and comfort that more than makes up for the times they eat our socks.

Some of these folks are long-term, dedicated volunteers. Others are students or workers taking some time during their summer holidays to be of service. Others are travelers and adventurers, combining their wanderlusts with a desire to make a difference.

Why are they here?

I spent an afternoon talking to a young woman named Carolina, from the Bay Area of California.  She had been on vacation in Greece, and fell into a conversation with an older woman who had been spending time in the Greek Islands dealing with the huge influx of refugees last fall.

“Oh,” she remembered thinking: “I have to do that.”

Clear. Obvious. No-brainer.

They are here because there is work to be done, and human needs to be filled. Pure and simple.

So I have met some of these men, these Farsi and Benghalis and Pashtuns, and shared some meals and conversations with them. They are tanners and aircraft mechanics, would-be accountants and experienced managers. They tear up when they hear emotional pop songs from their homelands. They meet, talk, and play soccer and basketball these young, free, strong Western women, but they always act as impeccable gentlemen towards them, even though you can see the longing and loneliness in their eyes.

In a few days, I’ll get to go meet some refugee kids in one of the other camps, perform for them, and maybe introduce some of them to the old-fashioned tin can stilts I’ve been making in my spare time. If you’d like to know more about supporting BelgrAID, or my work here in particular, drop me a note at  Thanks.

Foundation for the General Welfare

What counts as “work”? Or a “job”?

The usual conception of a “job” implies activities that create value for someone else – one’s employer. For doing this, one gets paid… and the employer makes profit by making sure that payment is less than the value of the work.

Many activities, though, that demand time and effort, and that do in fact create value for society, but not for an employer, are not recognized as “jobs.” As social theorist Riane Eisler has pointed out, our economic systems “fail to value and support the most essential human work: the so-called ‘women’s work’ of caring and caregiving.” This includes the work – usually full-time, if not 24/7 – of caring for oneself, one’s family, one’s community, and one’s environment.

In the present debate on healthcare, for instance, conservatives who are trying to dismantle sections of the social safety net are fond of saying that those who may lose Medicaid coverage “can always get jobs,” as White House spokescreature Kellyanne Conway recently stated.

general welfare

Well, okay then.

I propose the establishment of a quasi-governmental foundation, to be called the Foundation for the General Welfare. (As in “promote the general welfare,” one of the stated goals of the United States of America.) This foundation would be funded initially by the government and, increasingly over time, by private donations.

It would hire people, and pay them a living wage to do what they have to do.

This foundation would, for example, hire the chronically ill who do not have insurance. Their job description would be simple: to participate in treatment for their illnesses, and get better if possible. Full insurance would be among the benefits – in fact, it would be the same Federal employee package now enjoyed by our Congresscritters.

This foundation would hire single unemployed parents, especially teenage moms. Their job description: to raise their kids and take care of their households.

This foundation would hire adults who are caregivers for their parents. Their job description: keep their parents as safe, comfortable, and happy as possible.

Get the idea?