We're lying to ourselves. Rainbows are not to be trusted. We're full of them here in Juneau, and there are no pots of gold. They're the source of endless frustration. There's no touching them. There's no eating them. There's no spending them. They lead you from where you are to somewhere they're not. You get there and look around, the rainbow's gone.
Then you're out from under the protection of your guardian angel like a rabbit in a pasture surrounded by wolves.
A quick visit to the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen verifies our suspicions.
You can’t run a country by a book of religion
Not by a heap or a lump or a smidgen
Of foolish rules of ancient date
Designed to make you all feel great
While you fold, spindle and mutilate
Those unbelievers from a neighboring state
TO ARMS! TO ARMS! Hooray! That’s great
Two legs ain’t bad unless there’s a crate
They ship the parts to mama in
For souvenirs: two ears - Get Down!
Not his, not hers, but what the hey?
The Good Book says: “It’s gotta be that way!”
But their book says: “REVENGE THE CRUSADES!!!!...”
With whips an’ chains an’ hand grenades...”
Listen, we can’t really be dumb, if we’re just following God’s Orders
After all, He wrote this book here an’ in the Book He says:
“He made us all to be just like Him,”
So... If we’re dumb... Then God is dumb...
An’ maybe even a little bit ugly on the side
Dumb All Over
Frank Zappa 1981
The prophets have come and gone. Here on a twenty-five-year old vinyl scroll entitled You Are What You Is we find the proof. We missed it.
While we were scanning the skies for strange lights the messiahs made tiny marks, unnoticed. And we're left hanging out with idiots who all have their fingers on nuclear triggers, bad sneezing allergies, and untreatable cases of Tourettes.
What is with the Amish? Are they of this earth?
A man comes into their community and kills their daughters and they offer only forgiveness. Where is the quest for vengeance? Where is the righteous indignation? Where are the demands for compensation and the appearances on TV talk shows?
Instead, to the family of the killer they say: "Do not leave this area. Stay in your home here ... we forgive this man."
What is forgiveness? Is it constitutional? Has it been legislated by a liberal court that doesn't understand forgiveness is a sign of weakness?
They will not let terror change them as they do not let this society change them. To them, electricity, the internal combustion engine, and indoor plumbing share the same status as brutality. To not be changed is to not be changed. Their God is all powerful. Nothing this earth can throw at them changes their relationship with the omnipotent universe.
They invite the family of the killer to the funerals. To their tables. Their forgiveness frees them from fear and hatred. It is how they bear the pain of their losses. It is how they go on with their lives, and how they help the others to move on.
Imagine someone suggesting that they are free from fear. What is to be believed in such an idea? Where are their ropes and chains? Where are their focus groups and outraged parents protesting the government's failure to protect the weak and defenseless? Where is their voting block? They must not be human, that's it. That's how they practice this strange concept: forgiving killers of children.
Who has the nerve to wonder: what if we had done that after 9/11? What if we had said to the Islamic nations of the world: "Do not run from us. You have nothing to fear from the United States of America. We know you are not the terrorists and that you do not agree with their extreme behavior. We forgive these terrorists the pain they have caused us, and invite them to join the brotherhood of peaceful nations. Meanwhile, we invite you, the families of the terrorists, to our table and to our funerals. Pray with us for the dead, and the survivors. Let us all move forward from under these deaths. We are still alive. We share this life."
Who would suggest our response: to cause war in an irrelevant nation - is anything but sanctified?
What blasphemer suggests you imagine: what would have happened if we turned the other cheek? What would have happened if instead of legalizing torture and threatening our allies and destroying our own civil rights we believed in an omnipotent God who could not be moved by anything that happened on this planet?
Would we have been annihilated by splinter groups, or like the Amish, would we be free to go on with our lives?
Who dares to imagine that freedom from fear might actually be - freedom?
They believe they are Christians. They have been persecuted by Catholics and Protestants alike over the centuries. Yet they persist in their insistence on simplicity. In the simplicity of their laws, which they believe are handed down by God in a document they call "the Bible" which seems to bear some resemblance to a book others hold in similar reverence without the benefit of reading comprehension.
Other groups profess the same philosophy. Yet there is a contrast.
I don't know about you, but even though I enjoy electric light I feel there is something to learn from their example. In fact, even though I like my computer and my running shoes, I am put to shame by the wholeness and truth of their respect for humanity.
I am become nothing in light of their forgiveness. I wither in the shadow of its beauty. I have lost myself and live in the grief of separation.
My sorrow is insignificant.
We are connected to things around us through first our minds, and then five or six senses, and then our families and neighbors, and then the electronic tendrils of the media: television, radio, digital networks. Information is brought to us many different ways and we have all had to develop a form of autism to filter only what we can handle.
But what if there is a message? What if we're missing it? What if it's:
"Be prepared to lose everything. What you protect will be taken. What you cherish will be destroyed. On this earth you have only your soul, and even that you must give to another."
We see war and death and misery and do nothing. We see happiness and progress and beauty and do nothing. We can't cope with the torrent of information that collides with our minds, and so we ignore it.
It's all a human being can do.
But meanwhile, we may be missing messages.
Rainbows may be messages. And the message may be:
The world is full of things that exist only because you looked for them. Some of these things are beautiful. Some are not.
Many are forever out of your reach, and yet they are part of you because they exist for you.
So be mindful.
Forgiveness must be a rainbow.