During the months of June & July, The Rainbow Family of Light is having an annual gathering in the Santa Fe National Forest some thirty miles northeast of Cuba, in northwestern New Mexico. The opening days were a bit wet & muddy. It's the monsoon season in New Mexico so the rain came as no surprise to some 13,000 people celebrating a desire for world peace, freedom & the power of universal love.
The Rainbow Family of Light is an extended, loosely structured tribal community that dates back to the mid sixties when they held their first gathering in southern Colorado. They are a sophisticated, politically astute society of free spirits who pose a clear & distinctly viable alternative to the anti-humanist aggressiveness of American consumption based free market capitalism. Their economic policies are based on barter. Necessities are available based on need. There are no celebrities in their vision of the world. Broad decisions made on behalf of others are made by "elders." That is about as oligarchic as it gets.
There is an undeniable vein of Luddite values in their world view. They actively shun alcohol, most drugs, technology & money based economic systems whenever possible. They reject greed, excessive materialism, competitiveness & militarism of any kind. They believe we are here to learn, share & take care of each other. The natural world is a source of wisdom to be protected & revered as opposed to a resource to be exploited for profit & then consumed. They openly celebrate sensuality & eroticism on an intimate, personal level. They celebrate & revere children & childhood.
Rainbow Family members are not utopian. They are genuine realists & dedicated, nonviolent revolutionaries. They believe peace in our time is not an empty phrase. With a pagan exuberance, they are passionately dedicated to making it happen now.
For the Rainbow Family of Light, tolerance, kindness & unconditional love are goals of the highest order to be pursued on an individual level from moment to moment. That is a tall order. It is particularly so in the face of the general cynicism & mindlessly reflexive materialism of hostile outsiders who consistently misunderstand & fear them. The Albuquerque Journal, with its typical obtuse, wrongheaded, crime & violence obsessed main stream media fixation on the sordid, called the Gathering a "mudfest." Family members have always made it clear that cameras not be used when attending events at the Gathering, but Journal photographers were there anyway contemptuously & intrusively taking the photographs they believed they had a right to take for their front page no matter what.
All in all, Cuba, with roughly 800 residents & the Cuba police department have handled themselves very well. In June, during the early stages of the Gathering, law enforcement officers arrested a group of family members for marijuana possession, unleashed dogs & other minor infractions. The group appeared before an Albuquerque judge who reduced their offenses by half & set a fine accordingly & invited them to return to their event in the Santa Fe Forest.
I asked an eighteen year old skate boarding jujitsu adept freshman from the University of New Mexico who had been there two & a half days what he thought of it all. He raised both hands making a big peace sign & said it was the most amazing experience he has ever had.