TEMPORARY REFUGEE

TEMPORARY REFUGEE
By Blind Peanut Nicholson

Oh I’m just a temporary refugee
Looking for a home, just looking for a home
Looking for a place that will shelter me
Looking for a home, just looking for a home

Had to leave the place I loved
Gotta keep faith in the Lord above
Flitting around like old Noah’s dove
Looking for a home, just looking for a home

Yes I’m just a temporary refugee
Looking for a home, just looking for a home
Looking for someone who will comfort me
Looking for a home, just looking for a home

The road goes on and the days go by
Most days I laugh, some days I cry
Till I can find a good place to die
Looking for a home, just looking for a home
Looking for a home, just looking for a home

THE PEACE AND JUSTICE FILES: WHEREIN I CALL FOR THE NEXT REPUBLIC

THE PEACE AND JUSTICE FILES: WHEREIN I CALL FOR THE NEXT REPUBLIC

(“Peace and Justice Files” columnist Skip Mendler left the United States on January 19, and is headed towards the Eastern Mediterranean to help with refugee assistance. He’s taking a few stops along the way…)

Lage Vuursche, The Netherlands:

In the course of the years, I have had relationships with a number of cars… most of which have ended badly. My dear early-model Honda Civic took me cross-country twice, but eventually dissolved in winter road salt. My little Ford Festiva hydroplaned on the Northeast Extension on the way home from a demonstration in Philly in 2000, bouncing off a concrete divider while Don Henley was singing “End of the Innocence.” And my Hyundai Elantra… well, it got to the point where we just couldn’t afford the upkeep anymore – and then I realized that I didn’t really need it anyway.

Governments are kinda like that. For one reason or another, you have to get a new one every once in a while. They wear out, or break, or some calamity comes along and makes them unusable, or the cost of maintaining them becomes unsustainable.

I’d like to suggest that we are at that point.

I’ve been in The Hague for the last few days. Yesterday, my walk to the MC Escher Museum (highly recommended, by the way) took me past the US Embassy. Unlike most of the other embassies – indeed, unlike the Dutch Parliament or the royal residences – ours stood behind a high iron fence, ensconced between police command centers, foreboding and unwelcoming, more like a prison or fortress than anything else.

Something about that hit me hard. The day before, I had encountered a demonstration by some Sudanese folks, pressing for the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes but not arrested… and I had of course spent the morning getting caught up on the news, reading about gas attacks and retaliatory bombings.

Looking at the flag over the embassy, I felt a wave of grief and shame washing over me. I sat down at the base of a nearby statue and gave myself permission to let it out.

I bawled like a child.

A couple of passing pedestrians check in on me, to make sure I was OK. A few minutes later, a couple of local policemen arrived, very kind, understanding, and sympathetic. We spoke for a while, and I gathered up my psyche and went on my way.

And that’s when it hit me.

It’s time to call for the Next American Republic. This one is broken, worn out, obsolete, and too expensive to maintain – and furthermore, it has been vandalized and tampered with, its safety mechanisms and pollution controls deliberately disabled.

Of course, we can’t go to a new government dealer, or even get a certified “pre-owned” Republic for a replacement. We’ll have to build it ourselves. We can use some of the old parts, maybe, the ones that still work – but before we get to that, we have some design work to do.

So let loose your creative imaginations, your highest ideals, your most fervent hopes:

What features would you like to see… in your Next Republic?


(Send me your ideas at skip.mendler@gmail.com, or post them on Twitter with hashtag #NextRepublic, or reply in comments below.)

I’M AFRAID OF THE PRESIDENT

I’M AFRAID OF THE PRESIDENT
(with apologies to David Bowie)

Donny’s in the White House
No sense at the wheel
Uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh
He doesn’t need anyone
He doesn’t even pretend
Uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh
Donny’s in America

[CHORUS]

I’m afraid of the President
I’m afraid of his words
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of the President
Donny’s in America
Uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh

Donny’s got his own plane
Donny wants to meet with the Kochs
Donny wants to grab ya
Donny thinks it’s all a joke
Uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh
Donny’s in America
Uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh

[CHORUS]

I’m afraid of the President
Uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh

Donny’s in the white house
Donny wants to hang out with stars
Donny combs his hair
And Donny wants nookie in cars
Donny’s in America, uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh
I’m afraid of Americans

God please help America
God please help America

[CHORUS]

Yeah, I’m afraid of the President
I’m afraid of his world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of the President

Donny’s an American
Donny’s an American
Donny’s an American, uh-uh-uh uh, uh, uh-uh uh-uh-uh

Showrunner

Let me process these developments
The arc of the story has changed
Gotta write a whole new narrative
The plot points got all rearranged

Let me run this by the writers
See if we can set up that shot
Let me run it by the sponsors
See if they’ll buy another spot

I’m the showrunner now
Ever since you spun me off
A full reboot, try another route
Get the fans back on the bus

We had a long run, but the plot got stale
The old chemistry was gone
In-universe, things turned for the worse
It was time for some one to move on

No way to go back for a prequel
Without finding a whole new cast
Change the locations, try a new style
Ratings were slipping fast

But I’m the showrunner now
Now that you’ve left the team
To pursue your solo projects
Now that you’ve split the scene

I’m the showrunner now
A new season in the works
Got some surprises up my sleeve
New cliffs to hang, new tears to jerk

Poem for Eustace St. Meeting

In this time of such turbulence and strife
We come into the Silence and here reclaim our life

The powers of the world outside may be deeply shaken
But here, within, the Spirit quietly awakens

And when the touch of Light has eased our pain
We can re-emerge to face the World again

(written at Eustace St. Friends Meeting, Dublin, 5 March 2017)

A Green Year – updated version available

Start by looking over the “Ten Key Values” and “Four Pillars” of the Green Movement. You might notice that the Key Values can be distributed under each of the Pillars in an almost symmetrical way…

As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that with the addition of a couple of values, we could make four sets of three, and assign each Value to a month, and each Pillar to a season – thereby setting up a kind of canonical Green Year, that could then be used as a framework for Greens and Green groups.

So I added two, and tweaked some of the terminology a little bit. Here’s the result I came up with. Feel free to make your own adjustments – I know that not every Green will approve of some of my word choices (which is why I’m not submitting this for any kind of organizational imprimatur ;*).

Here’s a brochure version: GREEN YEAR brochure 3.5

For more information, see agreenyear.wordpress.com

WINTER
PILLAR: PEACE
First Month (January) – Nonviolence (Dr. King’s Birthday)
Second Month (February) – Restorative Justice (Black History Month)
Third Month (March) – Feminist Values (Women’s History Month)

SPRING
PILLAR: ECOLOGY
First Month (April) – Ecological Wisdom (Earth Day)
Second Month (May) – Future Focus/Sustainability
Third Month (June) – Personal & Global Responsibility

SUMMER
PILLAR: COMMUNITY
First Month (July) – Social Justice
Second Month (August) – Respect for Diversity
Third Month (September) – Community-Based Economics (Labor Day)

AUTUMN
PILLAR: DEMOCRACY
First Month (October) – Active Engagement
Second Month (November) – Grassroots Democracy (Election Day)
Third Month (December) – Decentralization

NOTES

  1. You can either count the months using the equinoxes and solstices as your starting points, or use the standard calendar months. (Alternatively, consider using the overlaps to reflect on the connections between these topics…!)
  2. I have included some key holidays and commemorations that relate to certain values – let me know if there are other special events that could be linked.
  3. Also let me know if you think the order of values within a season should be changed.
  4. Under “Restorative Justice” (the meaning of which can be found here) I also mean to include such notions as mercy and forgiveness.
  5. By “Active Engagement” I mean encouraging citizens to undertake ongoing participation in democracy – not just by voting, but staying informed, writing to elected officials, etc.  If you look back on the original 10KV statement, you’ll see that the “Grassroots Democracy” value is more about setting up systems that allow particpation – this value is about making sure that people use their power.

How Much

HOW MUCH
a country lament by Blind Peanut Nicholson

So how much for some simple friction
Or a nuzzle on the ear
How much for you to listen
While I tell you my darkest fears

How much for you to show me
The dreams you keep hidden inside
How much for us to just be here
Breathing side by side

(bridge)
How much for you to notice
The pain I can’t express
I didn’t come here to drink overpriced beer
Or to watch someone undress

How much for you to hold me
How much to let me cry
How much do you charge for a reason to live
Or some comfort before I die
How much do you charge for a reason to live
Or some comfort before I die