All the colours of the rainbow

It seems hard to believe that an entirely natural “optical and meteorological phenomenon caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky” (thank you Wikipedia) could carry with it such enduring and significant cultural significance.

To quote Wikipedia again:

In Norse mythology, the rainbow bridge Bifrรถst connects the world of men (Midgard) and the realm of the gods (Asgard). The Irish leprechaun’s secret hiding place for his pot of gold is usually said to be at the end of the rainbow. … Rainbow flags have been used as a symbol of hope or social change for centuries, featuring as a symbol of the Cooperative movement in the German Peasants’ War in the 16th century, as a symbol of peace in Italy, and as a symbol of gay pride and LGBT social movements since the 1970s. In 1994, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Nelson Mandela described newly democratic post-apartheid South Africa as the rainbow nation.

Right now, it feels as though the world desperately needs rainbows.

My news feed is full of stories about misery and hatred; about racial, gender and religious intolerance, ignorance, selfishness and greed (1), (2), (3). As the impoverished and displaced of the world take ever more desperate measures to find a better life, the governments of countries grown rich on exploitation find ever-more brutal ways to keep them out. While we can celebrate the recent Irish referendum that made it the 19th country to legalise same-sex marriage (4), LGBTI persecution continues unabated in many other parts of the world.

Even in my little South Pacific paradise (a place we used to call “Godzone”), there is little reason to rejoice. Too many children go to school hungry each day (5) and die of preventable diseases in cold, damp houses (6). New Zealand is not a poor country; but we are in danger of becoming an emotionally and socially impoverished one. A country where the function of government becomes to help the rich get richer and to hell with the poor. Where compassion and social awareness are replaced by consumerism and escapist entertainment.

But sometimes there are rainbows. When same-sex marriage legislation was being debated in the New Zealand in 2013, one of the MPs from our ruling, neo-liberal National Party made a speech in support of the legislation. Funny and passionate, Maurice Williamson’s “Big Gay Rainbow” speech became briefly famousย  in New Zealand and around the world. A small rebuttal of prejudice and a plea for tolerance; a little rainbow.

This post was written for the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge.


(1) Charleston shootings: NRA blames victims as reactions echo Newtown: The Guardian, June 19, 2015)

(2) Did Australia pay people-smugglers to turn back asylum seekers?: The Guardian, June 17, 2015

(3) Hungary closes border with Serbia and starts building fence to bar migrants: The Guardian, June 17, 2015.

(4) Ireland becomes first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote, The Guardian, May 23, 2015

(5) Child hunger still a thorny political problem, Stuff, May 24, 2015.

(6) Government must act on unhealthy houses, Stuff, June 17, 2015.

21 thoughts on “All the colours of the rainbow

  1. Su, we must be in sync. I started writing a somewhat similar post on Sunday, but still haven’t been able to finish it. Partly due to lack of time, but partly due to the fact that the post is proving difficult to write: I’m trying to write about events that I haven’t fully processed yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My previous favourite of all your posts was “On Beauty”. But this one might just win the day – at least until your next piece. Brilliant interpretation of the theme. I like to think there’s always hope, no matter how dire the situation, and you reminded me of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Jill. I’m struggling to find hope at the moment. Everywhere I turn there seems to be more greed and hatred, more grotesque abuses of power, more suffering. I feel somewhat cocooned in my comfortable little space, but always with the sense that my safety comes at others’ expense, and that any day the world will come knocking on my door. I need reminders (even those from Maurice Williamson of all people) that there is good and that sometimes change is for the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope your beautiful country has a good future. It is our reality – people are getting mislead by those who only want to widen their markets and increase their revenues. People are made to believe that they can make their own decisions, but in reality it is all calculated and orchestrated. Meanwhile a poor child dies somewhere before he knows why he was born.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I despair about everyone’s future — except the super-rich. I know so many good people working hard to make a difference, but on a global scale we are too few too late. Depressing thought, but I seem to be in a very gloomy place when I allow myself to think about the world.


  4. The colors in your photographs are stunning, Su! Beautiful captures indeed.

    While I am totally unclear of what is going on in NZ, there is a negative overabundance of “misery and hatred; about racial, gender and religious intolerance, ignorance, selfishness and greed” here in the US. Indeed, there is a lot of suffering…but I feel it wrong for government to pass laws to “protect” or to encourage increasing the suffering population by allowing illegal immigration. Government is overflowing with fraud and rich congresspeople. How many government elite have filed bankruptcy, for example? It is the pot calling the kettle black…


Leave a Reply to Raewyn's Photos Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s