Today the vast social mechanism of a government holiday springs into motion, with its brief moment of reverence for U.S. military veterans who are generally ignored. I’ve sometimes seen veterans on Memorial Day as being like Christ on Christmas- a few people get very passionate about the people being honored, but for most of us it mainly signifies time off to spend with friends and family. Today I’ve decided to do a deeper meditation on what this holiday means to me. Please share if you feel moved to.
I consider myself a Rainbow Warrior of living light. For those unaccustomed to hippie speak, this means a peace warrior, a warrior who fights in the service of all life everywhere, rather than in the service of a military group or nation-state. The rainbow represents diversity, divinity, and the tradition of the international Rainbow Gathering festivals. It also references a Hopi myth of unknown provenance: when the human world is out of balance due to factionalism and a lack of shared respect for the living Earth, a tribe composed of all peoples- a rainbow tribe- will arise to unify humanity in the service of love. Anyone can identify as a rainbow warrior, and there are many Rainbow Warriors in our world who have never heard of this term.
The U.S. is a temporary, provisional state. It has arisen in a mere two centuries and it will one day pass away. The Rainbow tribe is an eternal union that exists across space and time, a metaphor that works to describe the common bonds between all people who fight for justice, beauty, and self-awareness. And while I honor the extreme commitments and selflessness of U.S. service people, most of whom truly want to do good in the world, I recognize a far greater valor amongst my Rainbow family.
This Memorial Day, I celebrate those fighting for their conscience and not for the selfish interests of their nation-states. I support those fighting for spiritual, economic and environmental justice. This battle takes place on many fronts, most of them geared towards ending our inherited narrative of straight wealthy white male American supremacy. I stand in solidarity with those fighting for migrant rights, black and brown rights, the rights of the poor both locally and in the so-called developing world. I resonate with those fighting sexism, rape culture, homophobia, transphobia, and gender violence. I appreciate artists, educators, activists, therapists, and teachers fighting spiritual commodification, emotional compartmentalization, and the cruel sophistry of neoliberalism. I honor indigenous tribes throughout the world fighting for their lands, their homes, and their cultural survival. I salute those fighting for fossil fuel divestment, doing tree sits, blockading coal ports. I value those fighting for sustainable energy, green construction, community-based infrastructure. In every walk of life there are Rainbow Warriors. Hog farmers fighting inhumane and environmentally devastating agriculture. Neruobiologists fighting narrow research agendas imposed by pharmaceutical companies. Stay-at-home dads fighting for their children’s dignity, or maybe for clean water, air, and food for their grandchildren.
Those fighting war deserve special mention here. Rather than seeing this as an oxy moron, we should see this as the way forward to a truly transformed Memorial Day in our future. Many will scoff at this, but I believe human cultural evolution is coming to a point where petty, bloody wars over natural resources, religions, ideologies, or national pride can end. This will be a long, taxing, and confusing process, but the Peace Warrior, the Rainbow Warrior, leads us in the right direction. Existing groups like Veterans for Peace already celebrate such heroes. Today my prayer is that humanity will be able to celebrate true spiritual warriorship in the greater public sphere within my lifetime. I want to see these values become mainstream by the time I’m an old man. Imagine huge rituals comparable in scale to the Flame for the Unknown Soldier. Imagine our leaders lighting fires for the Unknown Soul Teacher, the Unknown Rape Survivor, the Unknown Wilderness Defender. Now that’s a holiday I want to celebrate!
Please join me in wishing all Rainbow Warriors, including those both inside and outside traditional military service, a profoundly enriching Memorial Day.