During the fall, I had an assignment at school to write a Mad-Lib style poem about where I am from. In the section for religious beliefs, I wrote about sleeping in on Sundays and the rainbow principles.
My lack of motivation to get out of bed in the early morning is self-explanatory, but the rainbow principles puzzle some people. Most religions have a sort of to-do and to-not-do list. Basically what they believe is the definition of a good person. I explained the role of the principles to my teacher.
She suggested I liken the rainbow principles to the 10 Commandments for easier recognition with my readers. That’s what Google is for. I shouldn’t be expected to align myself with a majority religion just so people know what I’m talking about.
Unitarian Universalism is making the big leagues now. It was included as an option on the PSATs I took in the fall. For all other tests, I’ve always had to check the “other” box.
There are different wordings from different sources, but I can only match the principle to the color if I use the version with corresponding letters, like this:
Red: Respecting other people. Also referred to as the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I’d personally extend this to animals and all living things. But “all” is a powerful word. What about the dignity of most people? I’ve wrestled with this one. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of worth; existential worth and earned worth. At birth we all have potential and worth. That is a given. Then we grow up and earn or lose worth. There are people like Ghandi or Malala, and everyday heroes that have earned a lot of worth. Then there are pedophiles and dictators that only have broken shards of worth. But I don’t think they should be tortured or abused. That’s where their inherent worth comes in. I believe everyone has worth; but some people have more or less worth than others.
Orange: Offering fair and kind treatment. This one is pretty standard. But it has to constantly be scrutinized and enforced. “Kind” and “fair” are multifaceted and debatable ideas. I boil this one to the golden rule. Be good and do good in infinite ways.
Yellow: (puts the) yearning in your learning. I could gripe about school all day, but in the end I know I’m lucky to be getting an education. Sure, it would be nice if it started later and we weren’t required to take math, but I can’t imagine being told “no” to an education. I try to remind myself that it is school I resent, not learning. Learning is supreme.
Green: Grow in truth and meaning. Growth is the most important aspect of this one, to me. The only failure is when one stops growing and progressing and stretching. If you fear you aren’t growing in truth and meaning or anything else, refer back to yellow.
Blue: Believe in what you are achieving. I struggle with this one. If I can’t save the world, should I bother helping one aspect? I know I should, but it’s hard to remember that and not be flooded by discouragement. Do the little things. They matter.
Indigo: Insist on freedom, love and peace. I love the use of insist in this principle. Don’t hope or pray or wait around for the good stuff. Make it happen! Be involved and enthusiastic. Sign that petition, go to that rally, write that letter, and speak your mind. We’ve got some pretty useful rights and powers that we should exercise to the fullest extent. Don’t let the negative things go unchecked. Make a change for the better.
Violet: Value the web that does not cease. The entirety of existence can be summed up in a few words: cycles and connectivity. By denying these simple concepts, we create a lot of trouble. We are all connected to one another, to this planet, and everything in between. Our blimp of an existence matters. So does that pebble and that raindrop. Everything and everyone deserves respect.
These are my rainbow principles. I believe they are strong enough to stand on their own.
They’ve done all right for me so far.
Katherine Ahearn is a junior at Unatego Junior-Senior High School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk