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Yang, Ru-Men (The Rice Bomber)

Yang, Ru-Men was raised on the family farm
with the love of the land in the morning and the muscle in his arm
out in the China Ocean on the island of Taiwan
it’s a story worth the telling and I’ll sing it in a song

the family farm is the rock of humanity’s anchor
in the 21st century world war between the farmer and the banker
the great corporate bullies ride on the money train
the farmers stand to lose the corporations stand to gain

Yang, Ru-Men saw the danger comin’ from a dark and angry place
and he thought of all the farmers whose lives would be displaced
he made calls and he wrote letters but what good did it do
corporations never answer them nor the politicians too

Yang, Ru-Men went walkin’ one night
the moon shone like a lantern and the stars were shinin’ bright
and there came a voice a-callin’ so clearly in his head
maybe it was the ancestors, this is what it said

when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window

Yang, Ru-Men the farmer, he made a paper box
and he folded in the corners and he weighted it with rocks
with a little black powder and a little bit of rice
warnings on the label, words of advice

“Danger” said the paper box in writing bright and bold
“do not buy imported rice, our future can’t be sold
support the local farmers, resist the foreign trade”
and he placed them in the city where his point would sure be made

and he left them at the bank and at the railway station
little paper boxes with their little explanations
at the government building, the bomb squad on alert
but they were only made of paper, no one ever got hurt

they called him the Rice Bomber and they made a great campaign
they said he was a terrorist and they vilified his name
but in the farming country when these matters were discussed
they would tip their hats and smile, and say “he’s one of us”

(they said) when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window

seventeen paper rice bombs, seventeen times
every one a statement though they called them each a crime
and though they scoured through the countryside they did not have a clue
Yang, Ru-Men decided then just what he would do

he went to the station to give himself away
he said “I am the one you’re looking for, this is your lucky day
“my name is Yang, Ru-Men” he said, and he took a little bow
“I did that for the farmers like I do this for them now”

“if you did that for the farmers, that’s just what you say
“but we have you in our custody and that’s where you’re gonna to stay”
and justice was a stone wall, it never shed a tear
they tried and convicted and they gave him seven years

seven years for seventeen little boxes of rice
what kind of mathematics could arrive at such a price
it’s the kind of mathematics turns the world upside down
and it’s up to us to turn it back around

when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window

the family farm is still the rock that holds humanity’s anchor
in the 21st century world war between the farmer and the banker
one side has the money and the other has the plow
and it’s anybody’s guess what happens now

I went to visit Yang, Ru-Men, they had him in Taipei
it was in the detention center, it was on a visiting day
I didn’t speak his language and he didn’t speak mine
there was Plexiglas between us, and we didn’t have much time

he said you have to hold your vision and you have to hold on tight
take pride in your accomplishments and don’t give up the fight
and when the time was over, and they led him away
he put his fist up in the air and I can still hear him say

when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window