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What about the border between humans and the Earth?

A comic preacher from New York responds to the Brexit debate and vote - Earthalujah!

It sure is strong. Brexit pulls us in. My first response to the vote was to be glad – because we have been fighting for local power for decades here in New York. But Washington is not the same as Brussels. I got my localism confused with the complex struggle of the people the EU left out long ago. And I was (and am) moved by the UK youth who voted three to one to stay in, which has its parallel con-job here in the states. And then from there I exploded into 50 positions. Brexit is a potent tabula rasa.

It has succeeded as a pop phenomenon because it teases up in our souls the idea that we are facing a life-and-death question; except that the debate is led by clowns speaking in tongues. It turns us into over-heated Hamlets who go up on our lines at the point of 'To Be…' We’re doing this everywhere, repeating the question – 'Where do I live and where do you live?' but we know we’re getting it wrong. We sense that there is a far more crucial vote that we know we must soon face… Spoiler alert: The fact is that we can’t stay and we can’t leave.

Brexit has been fun to watch; has it out-polled the Game of Thrones? The nationalists love the sensation of being over-prepared for war, or even minor insults, while the EU business suits create blast-zones of identical details, all humor and music smoothed to consume. The Leaves want a wall to exercise their paranoia and they use that wall like a mirror preening like puffed-up Trumpish drag queens whiles the Remains use walls for 70 ft tall supermodels who look back at you like you just had nasty sex with them or are about to. Borders.

Is the first question really the border at the edge of my village or at the Dover cliffs or the border between Turkey and Syria? No borders matter so very much if the basic jet streams and ocean currents are changing. If the froth of the tsunami is 30 stories above us, we may not initiate a Brexit debate at that moment. No border between humans would save of us from the civilization-ending violence that we invite by our fixation with where you stop and where I begin.

The important question, and here is the political peace project in 2016: 'What is the nature of the border between the Earth and the humans? Do the placements of borders make a difference if the EU is dancing with Monsanto and that Welsh village has a weakness for coal?' The life-and-death question is about the border between me and my backyard – and the food I eat and its chemicalised field – and the border between my exhaust pipe and the sky.

The Earth has a view of life that must also be ours, too. To adopt any economy or culture that is not radically green in 2016 is suicidal. If our food or transport or medicine is traded in the City of London or Frankfurt, then spit it out. The materials of our life should not make excess capital for international gambling. Our vote should be for our living needs to cycle through our cities and our bodies like renewable energy. As for our politics, the first question is fossil fuel. We must simply overwhelm coal and oil production, stop it cold, in the next hours or days.

Say we are on stage and the Unborn are our audience. In our recent Brexitized Hamlet, we posed the question 'To Stay or Not to Stay' – and that audience watching us knew that this question is their doom, because it is the wrong question. The audience becomes convinced of this as the theatre itself is blown down and burned by the character left out of the action, the Earth herself.

It is too late for borders. We need to give importance to the things that we see in our hands. We have learned that how we treat the everyday foreground is how we ultimately shape the forces beyond the horizon. If, to live for Peace, we must feel the Other in our brother, then we must also feel the far reaches of the Earth in our intimate touch.


Reverend Billy Talen is a member of the Church of Stop Shopping, whose 40 singers get arrested giving concerts in JPMorgan Chase lobbies, redwood forests and the back aisle of Wal-Marts. They toured last year with Neil Young on his anti-Monsanto crusade. On the Stop Shopping Choir’s recent tour of the UK, they held forth at Wilton’s Music Hall in London and joined the 'BP or Not BP?' in the British Museum.

Topics: Brexit


Amen Billy! I made a related point in a blog post just before the referendum:

"In a sense our planet itself also has a border – that between the living and the as-yet-unborn. I find it interesting to consider the immigration debates in the light of this border, and apply the same arguments here, such as:

Should more potential humans be stopped at the border and excluded from our global commons..?

Should more already-living non-humans be forced to emigrate..?"

Thank you for all that you do - the fun at Wilton's and the British Museum nourishes me still! :D