Re: Dealing with the Violence

Stephen Wing (
Sat, 13 Nov 1993 21:19:34 -0800 (PST)

Re: Dealing with the Violence

Based on notes taken by Hugh Esco - known to some as
Hug - at the Spring Council.

Rainbow Family Spring Council
Sunday, May 30, 1993

On Memorial Day weekend, the Rainbow Family
Gathered to Council in a National Forest in Alabama. The
heart songs and head songs that weekend included visions
of the future, both for the Family and for the dominant
culture known among Rainbow as Babylon. It expressed a
lot of fears and a lot of courage. It remembered many of
the hurts imflicted upon those who have grown up in a
culture dominated by heterosexism, sexism, racism,
genocide, miltarism, ecdocide - violence of all
descriptions. It shared hopes and prayers for a future
that will be different. It acknowledged a lack of
understanding of what that future holds.

The issues which recurred were:
- Site for this year's Family Gathering which
traditionally attracts 20,000 people to a National Forest
for the week of July 1-7. The Gathering will be
strongest on July 4 when everyone is invited to
participate in a fast and silent meditation for world
peace that is traditionally ended by a parade from Kiddie
- The Impact of the Regulations (currently
being promulgated by the Forest Service) on our Right to
Peacefully Assemble on Public Lands.
- What sort of statement might be made as a
Family to respond to the regs which some described as a
war being declared by the federal government on our
Family. (The Forest Service report on the 1992 Colorado
Gathering says that between Federal, State and Local
jurisdictions, $10 million was spent providing an armed
presence at a Gathering for Global Peace and Healing.
Almost all of the arrests made that year were made with
the help and urging of the Family's internal peace-
keepers, the Shanti Seena.)
- The selection of a new banking council.
- Creating an understanding about how to deal
with the violent behaviors which threaten the safe
space we've experienced at Rainbow Gatherings.

During the first hour or so of the Council, there
were many issues spoken to. Then there was a call of
Shanti Seena to respond to a fight involving a knife
which resulted in two brothers bloodied and beaten, one
to the point of going to a hospital. After the disruption
the discussion focused on how we can deal with the
violence we encounter in our efforts to create a safe
environment for our family.

There were memories of being victimized by and
perpetrating battering, molestations, rapes, child abuse.
And there were many specific recommendations about
what we as Family and as individuals can do.

Extracted from my notes, the text below
represents specific proposals for action. It is broken
into several parts. The first includes things I heard in
circle that were not then disagreed with. I restated the
areas of agreement and disagreement from my notes at
the end of the circle before we joined hands, huggged,
om'd, sang "I Love You" to the camp, shared some laughs
and appreciations and finally broke to have dinner. I
wrote up the areas of agreement and disagreement the
next morning and tried to share it with as many mothers
and trusted elders as I could. They offered feedback that
helped clarify and flesh out my draft. Calef suggested
another idea which had not been previously heard in the
circle. These notes are offered for the consideration of
Family who are struggling with these issues, both at our
Gatherings and in Babylon.

Areas of Agreement:

We need a policy for dealing with the violence.
That policy must be rooted in breaking the silence to end
the violence. We ask that no one bring weapons to our
Gatherings and Councils. In a violent or abusive
situation, we ask that each person immediately take
responsibility for removing the children. We ask that
sisters and brothers who can do so from a centered
place, respond by defusing the excitement and preparing
all concerned to meet respectfully in a Shanti Seena
Council. Any party to a Shanti Seena Council may appeal
its decision to our Gathering's Main Council. We must
hold people accountable for their abusive and violent
behavior. This Council needs to set boundaries and agree
on consequences for violating those boundaries. We must
be serious in supporting one another regarding boundaries
and consequences. We affirm our Family's use of
banishment as a consequence of last resort. We must do
more than talk. We must act.

Education is vital. We need to incorporate our
tribal understanding of peace-making into Rap 107, an
orientation that appears on flyers, signs, and which is
presented orally to people as they arrive at the
Gathering. We also need to develop a Shanti Seena Mini-
Manual and a Shanti Seena Workshop that will help train
new Family in these vital skills. We encourage people to
participate in the Hug Patrol and to camp in community.
We encourage our Family to communicate with one
another about boundaries, fears and needs. We wish to
create an environment where there is no perpetration.
We encourage people to form affinity groups which will
look out for each other. We affirm the role of creating an
environment of love and light in preventing violent
situations in the first place.

Proposals for Agreement:

(Calef suggested outside the circle:) That we
commit to stopping our councils until we can remove
guns from the area -- whether those guns are carried by
our family or the employees of the various police
agencies which bring weapons onto public lands during
our Gatherings.

Proposals Lacking Agreement:

That we ask that people not bring knives to the
Gathering except for the utility of the Family (i.e.
kitchen, construction, etc.)

That we ask people to not bring alcohol to the

That we ask people to not bring drugs of all kinds
to the Gathering.

That we ask people who choose to bring and use
alcohol/ drugs of all kinds to our Gathertings to do so in
a respectful and invisible manner.

Areas deserving further attention:

(The following are issues which I feel should be
more fully explored. They were raised but not fully

Appropriate response by Shanti Seena to incidents
of rape, partner battering and child abuse where power
differences and gender dynamics inhibit the ability of
those victimized by the violence to feel safe facing their
attacker in a Shanti Seena Council. At the Colorado
Gathering there were two rapes reported. For at least
one of these incidents, the Shanti Seena team which
responded were all men. Many people spoke in favor of
gender balance. But other precautions are needed, I
believe that the primary concern needs to be the physical
safety of those who survive the abuse and that
responsibility for violence belongs with the abuser.

The effects of violent and abusive behavior on "by-
standers" who were not the immediate targets of the
behavior. Two people involved in a fight are not the only
people affected. The children are aware and learning
from how we respond to the incidents around us.

I believe as well that our understanding and
actions should derive from an active awareness of our
own heterosexism, sexism and racism.

Correspondence on this subject is welcome.
Copies of my full notes from the Council, from a Shanti
Seena council on Monday morning, from Sunday morning's
Brother's Circle and a draft Shanti Seena Mini-Manual and
are available for the asking. Contributions to cover
printing and postage are appreciated. Please write Hugh
at P.O. Box 5332; Atlanta GA 30307.

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