In case you haven't seen the Double Rainbow Guy youtube clip that now has over 10 million views, check it out and reflect on it. You will find my commentary below.
The man filming the phenomenon is "Bear" Vasquez. Once, according to CNN, a cage fighter, he now lives in Yosemite and spends his time doing photography, raising animals and farming organically. In many ways, he lives a secluded life. That's about all I could really find about the man. I have no idea what prompted him to make this video public, maybe sheer amazement, maybe some other unknown reason.
Whichever, there is something more striking at play here than the double rainbow.
"I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship" (Pope Benedict in his message for the 43rd World Communications Day).
Every few days for the past week I've checked out this video. My first reaction was not laughter, but astonishment. The rainbows are astonishing, yes, but his reaction to the Beauty before him is more so. I wish I stopped what I was doing to take in Beauty and ask the meaning behind it, ask what it is pointing to. This man was a witness to me in how to respond to Beauty. Aside from checking out the video, I also read some of the 50,000 comments that have been posted. As I write this post, there are 10 comments immediately visible, and 7 of them are disrespectful or derogatory.
Pope Benedict continues: "Those who are active in the production and dissemination of new media content, therefore, should strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person. If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable."
The "Double Rainbow Guy," Bear Vasquez, is a perfect example of what Pope Benedict is talking about. The easiest thing we can do is go along with the 70% of people commenting and belittle him, disrespect him, see him as less than a person, stupid, a perversion, a waste of space...we could go on. The challenge, and it surely is a challenge, is to embrace all the factors involved. Can I embrace everything that is happening in that clip in order to make a judgment about it, or will I slide in with the rest and immediately, once the first 8 words are spoken, belittle a man struck by Beauty?
I will leave you with one final, more personal, thought. To many, we worship bread.
Or do we?