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by Garrick Beck
reprinted from All Ways Free, Winter 1988
When Melville wrote in the 19th century, “Why weary the arm at the iron and the oar,” he meant, “Why work one’s life away in the industrial age factories and maritime trades?”
I mean: Why should anyone trudge thru the woods, shovel in hand, digging compost pits, or stand long hours in dark miserable weather, flashlight in hand, directing cars toward parking places, or lug food in boxes and heavy sacks over mountainous terrain, or scrub large pots? I mean: Why would anyone want to do this? And for no monetary profit?
I mean: Why should anyone want to go thru the 1001 tasks that are the life support system of the Rainbow Gatherings? Hauling large rocks for bakery ovens, digging & filling latrines, tending medical emergencies, installing water pipe systems that need to be taken apart just three weeks later, sorting garbage, not to mention doing all this with the added difficulty of our own problems: upset or belligerent people, alcoholics in rainbow clothing, rude or unhygienic behavior; and sometimes with only minimal help or even opposition from the public service of the government?
Why should anyone want to put themselves thru all of this just to enjoy nature or to party in the wild wild woods? Surely each of us can seclude ourselves in the wondrous beauty of nature, alone or with our friends or beloveds, with a great deal less difficulty than going thru all this effort, all this oomph, all of this – just to gather.
Why do it? Why face all the problems, all the maps & mailings, all the fundraising for printing; all the long winded discussions over procedures; why consume all this time of our lives? For what? Why gather?
And on top of this, face the disapproval of relatives and peers, who see us pouring whatever economic gain we make during the rest of the year down some rainbow-colored drain, traveling long distances, dealing with vehicle problems, supporting a donation cause that feeds and cares for a multitude; and to what end, to what purpose for a great big party in the woods ? So some people can go naked and skinny dip? All of us can find the quietude, peace, and power of Nature’s great temple on our own without all this fuss, and probably with a great deal more true tranquility and without the additional obnoxious attitudes of those who come along with commercial interference, intent on selling us some supposedly groovy items.
We are utterly capable of seeking and finding the pure, pure natural experience without subjecting ourselves to all this trouble. So why do we put this on our shoulder and go on? Why do we do it? I mean: Why gather?
Because we are creating something new and beautiful. Don’t believe there’s nothing new under the sun. This is as new – even 16 sweet years into it – as anything can be in the long–term development of human culture.
Because we fold the vision of a peaceful world in our inner eyes – in our hearts and we make it real in this outside world.
Because it is a thrill to experience a cooperative society.
Because it is our great pleasure to live – even briefly – together in a state of expanded freedom.
Because only when we take personal responsibility for the needs of each other – water, food, security, fuel, healing, child care and recycling – do we take mature responsibility for our lives.
Because the children need something gentle and loving to look forward to.
Because it is important to teach and learn as much as possible about human cooperation.
Because we dream of gathering everywhere with people of all lands and traditions. As Paul Revere and Longfellow said, “in every Middlesex village and town.”
Because we are fed up with war economy & economic exploitation & political over fording, and we want to try something else.
Because under all the party-style wrapping paper, the gathering presents a very serious example of functional culture.
Because gathering teaches thousands of people, even tens of thousands, respect for the earth, the water, the plants & the animals.
Because even the addicts, the dissolute, the spaced-out space cadets, the drunks who come are in need of love, and every society must care for its own.
Because laughter, music, celebration and rejoicing in life are needed in this world in great measure.
Because in our celebrations we make a hosanna of great joy.
Because when we work together voluntarily we illuminate the way out from under the burden of the governments & the banks.
Because gathering unifies ancient tribal wisdom with current ideas and technologies.
Because people + nature eco-harmony = beauty
Because when we gather we bring to life a society without human prejudice.
Because gathering internets people from all over the world who are actively participating in the conscious evolution of our species.
Because when we gather we touch each other in a spiritual place where we are all part of one great big human family.
Because we want to inspire hope that it is indeed possible – and in fact pleasurable for people of all kinds to live in peace.
Because the world needs to see a positive example, and if we don’t do it, who else will?
Because outside of the money system we encounter the most generous human natures.
Because light and life and love deserve to be celebrated by lots of us.
Because when we hold hands in our circles we can feel the energy that moves the atoms and the moon and stars.
Because our councils are open to everyone to speak; we hear ideas, poems, stories and wisdom from the seven corners of the earth.
Because the work and play shops are educational, the massage delightful, and the music rich with interlaced harmonies.
Because our example supports the right of people everywhere to be free to assemble peaceably.
Because in the simple relationships of cooperation and volunteerism are found the keys to the future.
Because in doing the simple tasks, the underlying gears and levers that make society go are revealed
Because when we work together in harmony, our divine roots are revealed.
Because it just great to see something large scale that doesn’t belong to the giant corporations.
Because gathering teaches us to have faith, to trust each other, to believe in good and goodness, and to have the strength – in the face of the rest of the world – to carry on.