The National Rainbow Gathering recently held in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest drew quite a crowd, some would say every color of the rainbow. The most noticeable change to the Rainbow tribe has been the phenomenon of the self proclaimed “dirty kids”. At first glance they look like any other homeless street punk.
Elders of the tribe insisted that the original purpose of the rainbows that “no one is turned away and everyone is treated equally,” is what makes a gathering of this sorts so valuable. Others may disagree.
These seemed to be the crowd, these “dirty kids”, who by perception of the locals were invading a small town and asking for money all the while drawing the most negative attention to themselves. It’s true that some were junkies, some were thieves, some were driving nicer cars that were initially led to believe. For the most part. They smelled terrible and would take offense to any other accusation.
Many of the kids ranging from 14 to 23 forced many to question; where did they come from and what are they doing here? After much thought and willingness to understand it all became clear. These “dirty kids” if not orphaned, have lived lives full of war and technologies. Why is this such a surprise that the younger generations to come would be jaded in a sense? At the gathering while still jaded they found their way home perhaps in a desperate attempt to be treated equally in a world that is full of harsh things.
“It takes every color of the rainbow,” a man who had been robbed at the Gathering explained. “Without them, (the undesirable element of it) , it wouldn’t be complete.” Why would we expect it to be perfect?
“It’s a small city of about 30,000 people. There’s bound to be good and bad,” the traveler explained.
Ultimately what the Elders of the Gathering attempted to explain when meeting with the public during their town hall meetings was this. It is this mantra that materializes into the very essence of what sets the Gathering apart from any other. Regardless of opinion, race, religious beliefs, or sexual preference, these “rainbow warriors” intentionally put themselves in a situation completely outside any comfort zone and force each other to co exist. All of this made possible by our first amendment right to gather peacefully on public land.
It may be reassuring to some that there are many still fighting the good fight even if some of them don’t smell great while doing so.