Tag Archives: refugees

THE PEACE AND JUSTICE FILES: EVERY NEW BEGINNING

It’s not often that a rock song nails a deep philosophical truth in a single pithy lyric… but that’s just what the band Semisonic did back in 1998, with their anthemic hit “Closing Time,” which includes this great line:

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

In this case, 2009 was that “other beginning.” Barack Obama’s Inauguration was the crest of a wave, a flowering of post-Bush “si, se puede” optimism that unfortunately was quickly squelched (let us not say “betrayed”) by his own centrist pragmatism and the Republicans’ petty, partisan obstreperousness.

So now here we are, at that beginning’s end – and a new beginning. On January 20, we will see what I am calling the “Dysauguration” of Donald J. Trump – as massive a perversion of the democratic process as the planet has seen since the emperor Caligula supposedly named his horse Incitatus to the Roman Senate.

I plan to see this event from a different perspective. By the time Mr. Trump intones the words “So help me God,” I’ll be across the border, in Canada. (You might want to join me, even if just in spirit, or just for the day. See the article “Vote With Your Feet?” on my website, skipmendler.wordpress.com.)

I’m taking advantage of this “new beginning” to stage a new beginning of my own. I am headed to Europe for an indefinite period, with two goals in mind.

One is to get involved with refugee assistance over there. I am aiming for the Greek Isles, but I might find that I can be useful elsewhere along the route. Ideally, I’ll be able to use my performing experience by hooking up with one of the groups like Clowns Without Borders that has been doing shows to entertain the kids in the camps, but I’m willing to do whatever. (Look up “refugee clown circus” for a raft of articles about what some folks have been doing already, and why.)

The other is to get some opinions and suggestions from activists and academics over there regarding what can be done to fix our broken system, and our fractured society. I am particularly interested in how they make multiparty democracy work, and how we might bring the American system more in line with European democracies in this regard. (See my September column, “Two Parties Are Too Damn Few.”) I also plan to attend the 2017 Global Greens Congress in Liverpool at the end of March.

At present, I’m thinking I should be away for six months to a year, maybe more, depending on what happens (and how long the money holds out). In the meantime, I intend to continue this column, but I’ll be focusing primarily on my experiences along the way.

I remain an “apocaloptimist”: I believe that things are about to get quite rough, but I also believe they will work themselves out in the long run. This particular “new beginning,” this onslaught called Trumpism, will run its course and eventually end, hopefully sooner rather than later, but end it will.

And then there will be more – and better – new beginnings on the way.

 

I Saw Three Ships (of Refugees)

I Saw Three Ships (of Refugees)
(Traditional; new words Skip Mendler)

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
And each was loaded to the brim
On Christmas Day in the morning

And what was in those ships all three
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
A sight that no one should have to see
On Christmas Day in the morning

Those ships were filled with refugees
On Christmas Day, On Christmas Day
Who from a brutal war did flee
On Christmas Day in the morning

Pray, whither sailed those ships all three
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
Pray, where might their cargo be safe and free
On Christmas Day in the morning

Oh, they came to America
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
Oh, they put their hopes in America
On Christmas Day in the morning

And every one was welcomed in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
With open hearts was welcomed in
On Christmas Day in the morning

And all the children did laugh and sing
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
And hope for better futures bring
On Christmas Day in the morning

For all the angels in Heaven approve
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
To see strangers welcomed with God’s own love
On Christmas Day in the morning

So let us all together rejoice
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
Whatever our language, whatever our voice
On Christmas Day in the morning